Thursday, March 15, 2007

Exercise and Breathing

I think that breathing is a very important part of exercising. Oxygen is like fuel for your blood, your muscles, and your heart, which of course is also a muscle. The reason I bring all this up is that I have been walking a lot – an hour per day – but I don’t think I have been breathing properly or enough. And of course with my new interest in biofeedback, I can see how beneficial proper breathing can be. Here is a rather extensive article on walking and breathing, with lots of links.

One thing about breathing is that when you exhale, that activates the nerve that calms your heart. If you don’t exhale enough, or properly, then maybe your heart remains agitated, your pulse remains elevated, and from what I understand that could increase the possibility of sudden cardiac arrest. (A small digression: eating fatty fish, or taking fish oil – omega-3s – is supposed to reduce heart rate and be good generally for proper functioning of the heart, unless you have heart failure, in which case it could be bad for you.) Whenever I have checked my blood pressure on the machine at the drug store, my pulse rate has seemed rather high, so anything I can do to bring my heart rate down would be good, I think.

Anyway, one thing I have been doing recently on my walks is deliberately breathing. I have been timing my breaths to my steps. Six steps equal one complete cycle of inhale and exhale, except I have been inhaling for two steps, and exhaling four steps, counting 1-2-3-4 on my exhale. This gives me about 20 complete breaths per minute, and 12 to 20 is supposed to be normal, although I'm not sure about the normal breath rate while exercising.

It occurs to me that I might be better off – the breathing might be more meditative – if I inhaled 1-2-3-4 and exhaled 1-2-3-4 – one with each step. This would give me 15 breaths per minute. I might try that soon and see how it works. I thought about doing 1-2-3 inhale and 1-2-3 exhale. Part of the reason I place the emphasis on exhale is because that is what calms the heart. However, there probably should also be a big emphasis on inhale, because that is what gives the heart muscle fuel to function.

Usually when I walk I like to just daydream and think about things. Often I have some of my best ideas while out on a walk. I can still daydream and think about things, but I believe I need to think more about how and how much I am breathing. I believe that would be good for my health.

, , , , , , ,

No comments: