Mindset

Discover the Power of Your Breath

You take around 8 million breaths every year, but when was the last time you thought about it? It’s probably been awhile since breathing just naturally happens – no effort required. And that’s a good thing! You wouldn’t want to have to remind yourself every few seconds to take in some air. But it is worth turning your focus to your inhales and exhales every now and then. By doing so, you can instantly change your mental and physical well-being – find out here with the Breathe Easy discovery in the new adidas All Day App (US only).

How is it even possible to go back and forth between controlling your breath and not? It’s because breathing is the only visceral function that can be both involuntary and voluntary–that means you can go from automatically doing it to inhaling and exhaling on command. (Compare this to something like your heartbeat, which you can never control.)

And because your breath is linked to so many other bodily functions, changing it can start a chain reaction. For example, when you’re stressed, your body reacts by raising your heartbeat, blood pressure, and breathing rate. Force the breath to slow down and you’ll feel immediately more relaxed, less stressed, and better able to concentrate. Over time, regularly slowing down your breath can even lower your blood pressure.

HOW TO BREATHE 

Most people aren’t breathing fully – they only expand their chest with each inhale. But if you breathe more deeply and expand your belly and rib cage, you’ll be able to draw in more air and get the most energy out of the oxygen in it. Your rib cage should expand in every direction – top to bottom, back to front, and out to the sides.

Don’t worry too much about if you breathe in through your nose or mouth – while inhaling through the nose can increase circulation and blood oxygen levels, inhaling through the mouth forces your jaw to relax. Just see what works best for you! It’s also important to think about your posture. The way you stand or sit can make it easier or harder to breathe well. When you’re slumped over, your lungs can’t expand fully, so keep back straight and shoulders back.

GO WITH THE FLOW 

To use the power of your breath in a positive way, try changing the tempo.

  • To calm down: This tempo helps you feel relaxed because the exhale is longer than the inhale. Try this before bedtime or whenever you’re feeling stressed. Inhale for a count of six, hold for four, then exhale for 10. Repeat for a total of five cycles. Don’t start out too fast – you want to imagine breathing in and out through a straw so it slows you down and you don’t run out of air.
  • To boost your energy: Are you hitting that afternoon slump? You can give yourself a caffeine-free jolt of energy by using a more forceful exhale. Inhale for four seconds, then exhale in a super quick burst. Get the air out of your body as fast as you can – like you’re blowing dust off a shelf. Do it five times.
  • To feel more balanced: Use this one throughout the day as you’re running errands or working – it will help you feel more composed and focused. Inhale for four seconds, hold for two, and exhale for six seconds. Do this four times.

Try these exercises and discover more small ways you can make a big impact on your health by downloading the adidas All Day app.