Our bodies rely on oxygen for every function from cognitive to digestion. Proper breathing not only ensures mental clarity, but also improves quality of sleep, reduces stress levels, enhances digestion and improves your overall immune system.
Proper breathing during exercise means inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth — maximizing oxygen intake and expelling carbon dioxide. A lack of efficient breathing, or holding your breath during exercise, can lead to cramping, lack of energy and decreased performance of the workout.
Maintaining proper posture and form during any exercise and focusing on the right breathing technique will enhance the workout’s effectiveness and avoid injuries as well. Your rule of thumb should be: Inhale when at rest and exhale when applying force. For example, when performing a squat, inhale when in standing position and exhale when squatting down.
To supply enough oxygen to every part of the body, a good warmup before exercise is crucial. It is important to prepare your muscles for the activity or workout you plan to do. A good warmup routine enhances the workout and more importantly helps to avoid injuries. Just as a sudden muscle movement might strain or pull a muscle, any exercise performed without a warmup can harm the muscles and joints.
To know what muscle groups to warm up, it helps to know what muscles you will be using during your workout. A good hip, quadricep and lower back warmup, for example, is important before a run. The more intense the activity, the longer the warm up should be.
And of course, a great workout is only complete with a deep and meaningful cool down and stretch. A gradual decrease in heart rate is essential to avoid dizziness or getting sick. Physical activity increases lactic acid build up in your body, and a good stretch helps to reduce that lactic acid build up, improves your flexibility, and prevents muscle cramping and stiffness later. It’s all about quick, minor adjustments. Future you will be grateful.