Wait, what? Breathing can actually help you lose weight?
Pretty sure we all know the main benefit of breathing: It keeps us alive. It also detoxifies the body, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, helps regulate hormones and body temperature, and yes, even assists with weight.
The key: Practicing diaphragmatic breathing. The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle that sits below your lungs and ribs, above the belly button. By toning this muscle through practice (it doesn’t take much!), you can increase the benefits of breath to the body.
So how does this work exactly with dropping a few Kgs? Well, when we engage in diaphragmatic breathing—think big, deep belly breaths that expand the tummy—the “rest and digest” response of the parasympathetic nervous system switches on. When this system engages, the body digests food more efficiently and absorbs more nutrients from food and the chemistry of the body shifts from fat storage to fat-burning mode. The body knows it is in a calm state and it’s ok to burn fat, rather than store it because it’s not in a stressful environment. (In contrast, short breaths will signal to the body that it should stay in fat storage mode, like when you are exercising.) But what if you are constantly taking short, sharp breaths because you are stressed or out of shape? You stay in fat storage mode.
Another beautiful benefit of diaphragmatic breathing is it stimulates the vagus nerve, which is the highway between the gut, the immune system and the brain. This is an excellent explanation to watch here.
So how do we improve our breathing? First of all, become mindful about it as much as possible. If you find yourself getting stressed (whether it’s from an obnoxious driver on the road, a screaming, irrational child, work overload or anything else), take a minute to breathe. Close your eyes if it helps. Count four breaths in through the nose, really expanding your belly out below the ribs, then hold that breath for four counts, then release it slowly to eight counts. Repeat four or five times until you feel your heart rate and your mind calm.
Here iswith some good breathing techniques.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: You don’t have to pay a lot of money or devote a lot of time to improving your health. It’s as simple as a few deep breaths in and out.
Photo by Valeriia Bugaoiva