Breathing is something that we do automatically, without even thinking about it; it is what keeps us alive by moving oxygen into our bodies. However, what many people do not realise is that they are probably not breathing properly, and this could be having a surprisingly severe impact on overall health.
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How does deep breathing improve health?
Deep breathing is something that many people don’t do, and this causes the amount of gas exchange in the lungs to be restricted. By allowing air to flow into all parts of the lungs, there will be more oxygen supplied to the body, and the waste carbon dioxide removed more effectively. This can offer a wide range of health benefits.
1. Deep breathing lowers heart rate
By supplying greater volumes of oxygen with every intake of breath, you are ensuring that it can be transferred to the red blood cells much more efficiently than if you took several shallow breaths within the same space of time. This means that the heart does not need to contract as rapidly to keep supplying blood to the lungs. Once your body has adapted to the regular deep breaths that you are now taking, you will notice that your heart rate has slowed down. This actually reduces your risk of a wide range of heart-related diseases, including heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure, which can all result from the heart muscle working too hard.
2. It increases your metabolism
Your metabolism is the rate at which the body carries out all of the reactions it needs to perform. Increasing the metabolism is extremely beneficial because it means that you are burning more calories from your food, even without increasing the amount of activity that you are doing. A faster metabolism is also extremely beneficial in any weight loss attempts that you may be making.
3. It increases the level of oxygen in your blood
Oxygen is the gas that we need in order to survive. Every single cell in your body, regardless of where it is located, requires it in order to produce energy, function properly, and even stay alive. This means that it is vital for you to have a good supply of oxygen moving around the body. By increasing the amount that is transferred from the lungs to the blood, you are promoting the health of all of your bodily cells, especially the brain. Brain cells need a good supply of oxygen, and you will notice that you feel less tired, and more alert, when you have been breathing deeply. This will allow you to improve your concentration and be able to think more clearly.
4. It encourages detoxification of the body
Detoxification, or detox as it is more commonly known, is a term that is used so often that many people are sceptical of it, and do not believe the many claims that are made about its benefits to health. What detoxification actually means is the removal of substances that are harmful to the body. Deep breathing directly removes carbon dioxide from the lungs, which is one of the waste products being continually produced by your cells. In addition, deep breathing can encourage other forms of detoxification. When you exercise, lactic acid builds up in your muscles, causing them to become stiff and leading to the onset of cramps. Boosting the supply of oxygen allows this lactic acid to be broken down fully, and eases the tension that can build up in muscles that have been working hard. The liver is one of the most important organs when it comes to detoxification, because it is responsible for breaking down any harmful chemicals. Keeping the liver supplied with oxygen means that these reactions can continue to take place.
5. It strengthens your immune system
Your immune system is what deals with any infections that you may develop, removing the bacteria or viruses from your body and preventing damage from being done. However, since it has to respond to infections very rapidly, it involves a lot of cells and antibodies being produced in a short space of time. The only way that it is able to meet the demand and deal with infections is by being supplied with enough energy, in the form of glucose, and oxygen. This means that you need to eat a healthy diet and learn how to breathe properly, as this will keep your oxygen intake high.
6. It improves your posture
Now, this might not sound like a health benefit at first, but the majority of back, neck and shoulder problems are due to poor posture. Breathing deeply (all of the time, not just for a few breaths when you remember what you are supposed to be doing) helps to improve your posture by using the right set of muscles. These are located in the abdomen, and will become stronger and more toned as you start to use them correctly. You will then find that your posture adjusts to become more upright, relieving the tension in the neck and back. Slouching should actually become uncomfortable as a result of these postural changes.
7. It reduces your risk of infection
Deep breathing is best carried out through the nose, rather than the mouth. This actually slows the intake of air, because the nasal passages are narrow. The slower intake allows your lungs to expand more effectively. However, the other important benefit of breathing through the nose is that the tiny hairs in the nasal passages act as a filter, preventing dust particles and infectious agents such as bacteria from reaching the lungs. This will lead to a healthier overall lifestyle for you.