Diaphragmatic Breathing is the Most Important Part of an Exercise

Updated at: Sep 13, 2018
Diaphragmatic Breathing is the Most Important Part of an Exercise

Discover how five minutes of breathing at the end of your workout can benefit your health like you never knew. All you have to do is: Lie down and breathe.

Ariba Khaliq
Exercise & FitnessWritten by: Ariba KhaliqPublished at: Feb 15, 2018

Most people today believe that in order for a workout to be any good, it has to be “intense” or “killer.” But what if all this intensity isn’t necessarily the best thing for us? What if it’s actually getting in your way, robbing you of the results you’re so desperately looking for?

Diaphragmatic breathing—slow, deep breaths that fill your belly—isn’t sexy. It's a necessity for health and performance.

Why? Geoff Neupert, a certified RKC and StrongFirst master kettlebell instructor, talks to Men’s Health about the importance of breathing through a story of one of his clients.

A Life Saved by Breathing

One of his clients, whom he prefers to call Mike, went through a “hell on earth” year. His wife was alcoholic and anaemic and was days away from death. His business partner had emptied his bank account, leaving him holding all of the business liabilities. Mike didn’t crumble, but saying he was stressed out would be an understatement.

Mike also trained with Geoff three times a week and because his body was already stressed out to the max, they didn’t do any “killer” workouts. Instead, they did an easy strength workout, and most of the times they did the “magic exercise.” What did they do? They just lay on the floor and breathe. That’s it.

Also Read: Breathing exercises for asthma patients

Health Benefits of Breathing

Breathing is the very first thing you do when you’re born and it’s the last thing you do before you die. It must be important. Really important!

It balances out your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, allowing your body to function more optimally. It helps reduce the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which are more often than not elevated due to stress-filled work environments and a lack of sleep. It's also been reported that diaphragmatic breathing:

  • Helps lower blood pressure, and therefore the risk of heart disease
  • Helps lower blood sugar, and therefore the risk of diabetes
  • Releases serotonin, which not only makes you feel good but can reduce cravings for processed carbohydrates and other junk food
  • Eliminates free radicals from the body, improving cellular function and lifespan
  • Increases the secretion of growth hormone and slows the ageing process
  • Improves mental focus and clarity by increasing blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex of your brain
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Facilitates weight loss by balancing stress hormones with anabolic hormones

Also Read: Say goodbye to anxiety with these breathing exercises

As you can see, there are some important benefits to regularly practising diaphragmatic breathing. You can do it to replace a workout when you're overly stressed like Mike did, or you can do it at the end of your workout.

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