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Right Way To Breathe: How To Breathe More Efficiently

Right Way To Breathe: How To Breathe More Efficiently

Breathing is one of those things that people don’t often mind. After all, most of our breathing happens without us thinking about doing it. But did you know that there is actually a right way to breathe?

Breathing the right way makes your lungs work more efficiently, which in turn, lets you inhale more oxygen per breath. The right way to breathe also allows your lungs to completely exhale any “stale” air, which makes room for fresh air.

But how exactly do you go about with breathing the “right” way?

What is the right way to breathe?

Our breathing is controlled by our diaphragm, which is a muscle found under the lungs, as well as various muscles in our chest. What happens when we breathe in is that our diaphragm contracts and creates a vacuum of air into our lungs. As this happens, we start to inhale, and air gets pulled into our lungs. When the diaphragm starts to relax, the air in our lungs gets pushed out, and we exhale1.

Most people tend to take in air by expanding their chest, and moving their shoulders upwards. While this feels like you’re taking in a lot of air into your lungs, the reality is that you’re not really taking in as much oxygen that you can.

However, the right way to breathe is to inhale using your belly. This is because when you use your belly, you’re creating more space for your lungs to expand. This in turn, makes you take in more air and therefore more oxygen. And when you exhale using your belly, you’re pushing out all of the “stale” air from your lungs.

Studies done regarding diaphragm breathing have clearly shown that breathing using your belly is the best way to breathe. Researchers have found that it can improve lung function as well as strengthen the muscles in the abdomen, which can even reduce back pain2.

There’s another breathing mistake you might be doing

Aside from not using the diaphragm, there is another breathing “mistake” that a lot of people are guilty of, and that’s breathing using your mouth.

Ideally, when we inhale, we need to use our noses. This is because our nose contains small hairs and mucus that help filter the air that we breathe. Breathing in through your nose also warms and humidifies the air that goes into your lungs. This is particularly important when the air you’re breathing in is cold and dry3.

How can you practice the right way to breathe?

Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing might sound like a straightforward process, and it is. However, it does take some getting used to, especially if you’ve been breathing differently for years.

Here are some tips to help you practice belly breathing4:

  1. Lie down flat on your back, and put one hand on your chest, and the other on your belly.
  2. Breathe in through your nose, and expand your belly to take in air.
  3. The hand on your belly should move, while the one on your chest should remain still.
  4. Purse your lips and exhale as slowly as possible, making sure to exhale as much air out of your lungs.
  5. Repeat for 5-10 minutes, and 3-4 times per day.

It’s also a good idea to practice belly breathing whenever you exercise. This is because during exercise and physical activity, your body needs more oxygen. Diaphragmatic breathing helps provide your body with much needed oxygen, and can even improve your performance.

Whenever you’re working out, be extra mindful of how you breathe. This way, you can ensure that you’re always breathing the right way, and making the most out of your lungs.

Learn more about Respiratory Health here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  1. Five Ways You Might Be Breathing Wrong | American Lung Association, https://www.lung.org/blog/you-might-be-breathing-wrong, Accessed August 20, 2021
  2. Effects of diaphragm breathing exercise and feedback breathing exercise on pulmonary function in healthy adults, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300812/, Accessed August 20, 2021
  3. Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises & Techniques, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/9445-diaphragmatic-breathing, Accessed August 20, 2021
  4. The Right Way to Breathe During Exercise, https://blog.nasm.org/the-right-way-to-breathe-during-exercise, Accessed August 20, 2021
  5. Diaphragm and lungs: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Image, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19380.htm, Accessed August 20, 2021
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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated 4 weeks ago
Fact Checked by Kristel Dacumos-Lagorza