Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity – Understand the Benefits

Whether you are interested in learning breathing exercises to do before physical activity or to reduce your anxiety and stress, we have some of the best options for you. You may be looking for some exercises that are more appealing than what you have previously found, or you might be looking for some that you haven’t tried before. 

Either way, there is something for everyone. It is important that you check with your doctor before trying any of the above practices. Ensure that you do not have any respiratory issues, as this could influence the outcome of the breathing exercises. If you feel any discomfort, discontinue the practice immediately, until you can get further medical advice. Check out the following exercises:

  • Benefits of Breathing Exercises
  • How to Do Breathing Exercises Everyday
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing
  • Pursed Lips Breathing
  • Breath Focus Technique
  • Deep Breathing
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • Lion’s Breath
  • Sitali Breath
  • Humming Bee Breath
  • Resonant or Coherent Breathing
Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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Benefits of Breathing Exercises

There are many upsides to doing breathing exercises. These include things like reducing your stress levels, lowering your blood pressure and heart rate, and reducing depression.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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Breathing exercises can also reduce chronic pain, improve blood glucose levels, regulate your body’s reaction to fatigue, and improve your lung capacity and function. 

These are all important for physical performance, as proper breathing is vital to oxygenating your body when exercising.

How to Do Breathing Exercises Every Day

Luckily, breathing exercises are not very time-consuming, but you need to set aside time every day to give them your attention.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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Start with doing 5 minutes per day, and increase this time as the exercises become easier to do. If you are struggling with 5 minutes, begin with just 2 minutes instead and build it up.

Do your breathing exercises multiple times throughout the day. Schedule these times or do them when you have the need to.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Doing belly breathing exercises helps you properly use your diaphragm. These should be done 3 to 4 times per day for 5 to 8 minutes when rested and relaxed.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • Start by lying on your back with slightly bent knees and a pillow under your head.
  • Put one hand under your rib cage and the other on your upper chest.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your stomach press against your hand.
  • Keep the hand on your chest as still as you can.
  • Purse your lips and exhale while tightening your stomach muscles.

You can put a book on your belly to add difficulty as you get stronger. You can do this exercise while sitting in a chair or on the floor once you have learned to do it lying down.

Pursed Lips Breathing

This breathing exercise is very simple and is used to slow down your breathing pace. This should be done 4 to 5 times per day, and is very helpful for lifting, bending, and climbing stairs.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
Image Source: Medical News Today
  • Start by relaxing your shoulders and neck.
  • Keep your mouth closed and slowly inhale for 2 seconds through your nose.
  • Purse or pucker your lips like you are going to whistle.
  • Slowly exhale through your pursed lips for 4 seconds.

This deliberate breathing exercise helps you correct your breathing pattern, which is useful for daily life as well as physical activities.

Breath Focus Technique

This exercise focuses on using imagery and focus words or phrases. You need to choose a word that relaxes you and makes you smile. This exercise should be done for 10 to 20 minutes per day.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • Lie down or sit in a comfortable area.
  • Focus on your breaths without altering how you breathe.
  • Alternate between deep and normal breaths, noticing the differences.
  • Notice how your shallow breaths feel different compared to the deep inhalations.
  • Breathe deeply for a couple of minutes.
  • Put a hand under your belly button and notice how your abdomen rises during each breath. Sigh loudly with every exhale.
  • Combine your deep breathing with your focus word and imagery to support calm and relaxation. For example – “inhale calm and peace, exhale stress and tension.”

Examples of words you can choose are relax, let go, calm, or peace. But any word that is calming for you can be used in this practice.

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a great exercise for relieving shortness of breath. It works by preventing air from getting trapped in the lungs and allowing more clean, fresh air from entering.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • In a standing or sitting position, slightly draw your elbows back in order to allow expansion of the chest.
  • Take a deep breath through your nose.
  • Hold this breath for a few seconds.
  • Slowly exhale your breath through your nose.

This breathing technique is excellent for creating a sense of relaxation

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This breathing technique is a great exercise for relaxation, stress-relief, and meditation. Plus, alternate nostril breathing can also enhance cardiovascular function and lower your resting heart rate.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • Start by finding a comfortable sitting position.
  • Lift up your right hand toward your nose. Press your first and middle fingers down toward your palm and leave your other fingers extended.
  • After releasing a breath of air, use your right thumb to gently block your right nostril. This will force you to take a breath through your left nostril.
  • Once you have done this, close your left nostril with your right pinky and ring fingers.
  • Release your thumb and breathe out through your right nostril.
  • Take a deep breath through your right nostril before closing it once again.
  • Release your fingers to open your left nostril and exhale through this side.
  • Repeat this process for about 5 minutes in order to get the most out of this breathing technique.

In order to get the most out of this breathing exercise, ensure that you do not eat for a few hours before starting. More so, avoid the practice if you’re bloated, unwell, or congested. 

Lion’s Breath

Lion’s breath is a commonly used breathing exercise that is known to reduce stress and built-up tension. This technique is especially good for relaxing the muscles of the chest and face and is often used as a part of yoga.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • Come into a comfortable seated position. You can sit back on your heels or cross your legs.
  • Start by pressing your palms against your knees with your fingers spread.
  • Take a deep breath through your nose and open your eyes as wide as possible.
  • Simultaneously open your mouth and stick out your tongue. If you can, try to curl your tongue to touch the tip of your chin. However, if you are unable to do this, simply stick it out as much as possible.
  • Make a “ha” sound as you exhale your breath. This will cause the muscles at the front of your throat to contract.
  • Focus your gaze on the space between your eyebrows.

Repeat this breathing pattern 2 to 3 times to feel its best benefits.

Equal Breathing

Equal breathing is a great technique for evening out your breaths. In other words, it can assist in making your breathing more smooth and steady

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • Start by finding a comfortable sitting position.
  • Inhale and exhale through your nose.
  • Count during each inhale and exhale to make sure that they are as even in duration as possible. You could also choose a word or short phrase to repeat during each inhale and exhale. Each breath should last between 3 to 5 counts.
  • Repeat this process for about 5 minutes.

You should find a breath length that is not too easy and not too difficult. More so, you do not want it to be too fast, as this will make it difficult to maintain throughout the practice.

Sitali Breath

This breathing technique can be used to lower your overall body temperature. More so, it is great for relaxing your mind, reducing stress, and easing built-up tension. 

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
Image Source: Lotus Yoga Centre
  • Find a comfortable sitting position.
  • Start by sticking out your tongue and curling it so that the edges come together.
  • If you are unable to do this, you can also purse your lips.
  • Take a deep breath through your mouth.
  • Exhale the breath through your nose.

You need to repeat this process for about 5 minutes to experience the maximum benefits of it.

Humming Bee Breath

This breathing technique is unique in various ways. It is known to create a sense of instant relaxation, mostly due to the motion of the hands on the forehead.

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • Start by finding a comfortable sitting position.
  • In order to feel as comfortable as possible, relax the muscles in your face.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Allow your fingers to hover over the cartilage section that partially covers your ears.
  • Take a deep breath. As you exhale, gently press your fingers down in order to block your ears.
  • Make a humming sound while simultaneously keeping your mouth closed.
  • Continue making this sound for as long as you can.
  • Repeat this process for a few minutes.

Many people turn to this practice in order to relieve unwanted emotions, such as anger or frustration. It is important to note that this exercise does require you to make a humming bee sound. 

For this reason, make sure that you find a quiet space in which you won’t be bothered or won’t bother anybody else. 

Resonant or Coherent Breathing

Resonant breathing, also known as coherent breathing, is a great technique for lowering your heart rate and creating a sense of relaxation. This is done by inhaling a total of 5 times per minute. 

Breathing Exercises to Do Before Any Physical Activity - Understand the Benefits
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  • Inhale for a count of 5.
  • Exhale for a count of 5.
  • Continue this breathing pattern for at least 5 minutes.

Many people use this technique in order to reduce stress and anxiety. When used with Iyengar yoga, this type of breathing is even known to reduce symptoms of depression. 

Summary

In order to get the most out of these breathing exercises, be sure to fit them into your schedule multiple times a week

More so, experiment with different techniques to find one that works well for you.