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Why is breathing so important?

Some basics and the research.

By Drew Meller, Physiotherapist

Breathing is fundamental to life. There is nothing more important to our bodies than the exchange of oxygen to create fuel. Breathing is also universal, free, and accessible at anytime. It’s the most powerful tool we have to add control to our state of being.

We all do it about 25,000 times per day. Breathing happens automatically and it is controlled at the level of the brain stem, below the level of our consciousness. However, with awareness and practice, breathing is something that we can take active control of.

In modern society, there is an abundance of stimuli, a perceived lack of time, less down time, and a lack of connection to nature. This all adds up to more stress on the body and an inability to properly process and rid oneself of that stress. Culminating in a state of chronic stress. We see this manifesting in higher rates of anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, insomnia, respiratory problems and various states of disease.

By implementing certain breathing techniques we can influence the way we feel by slowing down our nervous system. It allows us to be present in the moment, pay attention and respond to the current environment that surrounds us.

First step is to be conscious of our breathing– so we can take control of it. If we notice we are breathing improperly, we can then change it.

Throughout the day, adopt very simple healthy breathing habits; whether you are watching tv, walking the dog, or working at your computer.

So for a few minutes a day – try slowing down your breathing (inhale through your nose for 3 seconds, and exhale through your nose for 5 seconds). By doing this, we are manipulating our body into a more physiological relaxed state. Practicing this consistently allows one to be able to readily tap into this relaxed state whenever we need to.

Talk to your physiotherapist about how to incorporate individualized breathing techniques to help you move and feel better!


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