Breathing Exercises Improve Athletic Performance
Looking for new ways to improve your performance, endurance, and stamina at the gym or on the playing field? The secret is in your breath.
Breathing is crucial to life, but it’s often taken for granted (even during rigorous activity) until it becomes difficult. The human body requires two mass pounds of fresh air every day to survive. In fact, every function in the human body—from eating and digesting to muscular movement and brain activity—uses fresh oxygen.
Benefits of breathing exercises for athletes
When you’re physically active, your heart and lungs need to work harder to supply the additional oxygen your muscles demand. A 2018 systematic review by Andrea Zaccaro et al, found strong correlations between slow breathing exercises and an improved sense of ease and relaxation. Benefits were found when breath rates were around 6 breaths per minute. Another study from Justin Greiwe et al showed links between mental toughness and dysfunctional breathing (irregular breathing patterns) in athletes. Mental toughness incudes qualities like unshakable self-believe, resiliency, motivation, focus and the ability to perform under pressure. Irregular breathing patterns can negatively affect each of these qualities and impact overall physical performance.
An analysis of nine studies that measure respiratory muscle function, lung function, and athletic performance found that respiratory muscle training, or breathing exercises, can significantly improve strength and reduce respiratory muscle fatigue during high intensity exercise.
In short, mindful breathing exercises can help improve athletic endurance and stamina. Keep reading to learn how.
Try these breathing exercises to improve athletic performance
Practicing slow, mindful breathing will not only strengthen your respiratory muscles (diaphragm, rib cage muscles, and abdominal muscles) and improve your athletic performance at any level, but it will also improve your mental state and overall well-being.
To start training you can use simple counts of 4 second inhales followed by 8 second exhales. Box breathing is another style of breathing using 4 second count inhale, 4 second count hold, 4 second count exhale, and another 4 second count hold before repeating.
Each of these breathing techniques will slow your breathing rate to around 5 to 6 breaths per minute, which will put you in the correct breath-per-minute zone to realize all the healthful benefits.
For more information about breathing exercises or to schedule an evaluation call Jason Ferine Physical Therapy at 424-365-2083.