Breath your way to better Cardio
When most people set out to do their Cardio Training they usually have a time, or distance in mind that they strive for. Some of the more aggressive cardio doers might even try to beat an old PR (personal record), or incorporate some intervals. Regardless of the activity you pick, making sure that you get all the potential benefit out of your effort is a top priority.
Everyone knows that it is important to breath while they exercise. Without breathing you wouldn't even make it through the first minute of the warm-up phase of your cardio session. Proper breathing plays an important role in our ability to enhance our performance, but many people underestimate how important it is to focus explicitly on our breathing habits during training.
The lungs and the heart form the Cardio-Respiratory System. The two work hand in hand to pump blood and oxygen through the body. This miraculous example of teamwork happens autonomically without any of your input, but don't think that you have no effect on it's efficiency.
Based on our actions we can either make it easier or harder for our Cardio-Respiratory System to do it's job. A sedentary lifestyle, and poor eating habits can have an adverse effect on our heart and lungs ability to function. But what about improving their ability to work? Most will agree that exercise and nutrient-dense eating can boost our body's capabilities, but I also believe that focused intention on what I call Conscious Breath Training can have a huge affect on our Cardio-Respiratory health.
Conscious Breath Training is the deliberate act of focused and controlled inhalation and exhalation while engaging in physical activity. Over time, the act of consciously controlling how we breath while engaging in physical activity may boost our micro and macro recovery rates.
The next time you go for a run, or stride it out on the elliptical machine, pay close attention to how you breath. Here are a few tips.
Challenge yourself to inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Avoid using your mouth for inhalation as it can accelerate the evaporation of moisture in the mouth and bring on dehydration.
Notice how your body responds to taking deeper breaths, versus shorter breaths. Occasionally try to breath deep into your belly and exhale slowly through your mouth.
Periodically try to slow your breathing while moving. Trying to lower your heart rate while engaged in physical activity is a form of meditation.
If you are an advanced "Cardio Freak" try doing all of these without the use of your mouth. Only rely on your nose for inhalation, and exhalation.
Use your cardio activities as the method for which you engage in Conscious Breath Training. Focusing on training yourself to breath better, instead of simply trying to run for a set amount of time may give you greater Cardio-Respiratory fitness, and enhance your performance in the long run.
-Chris Falcon NASM Cpt Pes Ces