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How the Way You Breathe Can Affect Your Health - 4th Week

By Genevieve Cunningham

Most of us don’t put very much thought into our breathing. It is just something that happens naturally. We don’t have to think about it or tell our bodies to do it. It’s (thankfully) a biological reflex. But the way in which we breathe can make a big difference to our health. Sometimes, it’s worth giving it a little bit of attention. Take a look at these ways in which breathing affects overall health, followed by some tips for breathing deep.

Bad Habit: When You Breathe From the Chest

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, but where else am I supposed to breathe from? Actually, the best breathing begins in the abdomen, or more specifically, the diaphragm. Babies breathe this way normally, which is why you can watch a baby’s stomach rise and fall with each breath. As we get older, stress gets in the way. It causes us to take short breaths, or breaths that only reach the top portion of the lungs. This can cause us to not only feel restricted in the chest, but can also lead to low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide.

Bad Habit: When You Breathe Through Your Mouth

The nose is designed to take in air. It heats up the air on the way in, which helps prevent a sore throat. The little hairs inside the nose also help to trap debris that can potentially make you sick. When you skip the nose, you take that cold, germ infested air straight into your body. While this isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s a poor practice to keep if you can avoid it.

Tips for Better Breathing

Our Central Nervous System handles our breathing for us naturally, but if you want to take some control, have at it: 

  • Count - If you tend to take small, shallow breaths, try counting on the intake. Deliberately count to five very slowly as you breathe in, and then hold and exhale slowly. Over time, this will become easier and more likely to stick.

  • Push Your Stomach - Another great tip to take deeper breaths is to push your stomach out. At first, it will feel very forced, but over time it will get a lot easier. Just place your hands on your stomach, and try to push them out when you breathe in. If your stomach doesn’t move, you need more practice.

  • Practice Yoga - Yoga is one of the best routines for deep breathing. It teaches you how to take in breath, how long to hold, and forces you past your limits. It’s an excellent resource, and it’s a lot of fun as well.

If you feel sluggish, overly tired, or have trouble thinking, look to your breathing first. Some small changes may make a big difference in the way that you feel and your overall health. Even if you’re feeling good, practicing good breathing habits may make you feel even better. Use these tips to breathe deep, feel better, and have better health for a lifetime.

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