Breathing Workout for Brain and Heart Health
Proper diet and nutrition have always been known to help the brain and the heart to be healthy. But apart from these two things, there are other ways that can help strengthen these vital internal organs. One way is doing a breathing workout.
A breathing workout is essentially any series of breathing techniques that are focused on improving the health of both the heart and the brain.
Different breathing techniques have different effects on these internal organs. But one thing is for sure – that these techniques are proven to be effective in preventing a number of serious conditions.
Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training
Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training, or IMST, is a breathing technique introduced by Daniel Craighead.
Daniel Craighead is a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology who believes in the benefits IMST can give to both the heart and the brain.
IMST is likened to strength training because it works with the help of a handheld device that provides resistance in the breathing exercise.
All you have to do is to breathe through this device and as you breathe, resistance from it will help exercise your breathing muscles.
What’s good about IMST is that it’s only supposed to take up 5 minutes every day to get improved blood pressure, blood vessel health, and exercise tolerance. However, as of this year, clinical trials are still on-going regarding this breathing technique.
Nonetheless, a few trials have already shown promising results regarding improved blood pressure. It is only a matter of time before this handheld device is made commercial.
Other Breathing Techniques to Try
1. Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing is one of the most popular breathing exercises that are known for helping the brain and heart calm down.
If you’ve been to a psychologist and you have mentioned having anxiety attacks from time to time, they are bound to teach you how to do mindful breathing.
Mindful breathing, taken from its name, works by focusing on your breathing. As you take a breath, you will be asked to focus on how you breathe and how deep you inhale and exhale. As you focus on your breathing, you will notice that you feel more relaxed.
2. Nostril Breathing
Next is nostril breathing. Similar to mindful breathing, nostril breathing makes use of the nose to inhale and exhale.
All you have to do is to close one nostril off when you breathe by pressing one finger down a nostril. Then breathe for five times through the other one. Alternate this with the other nostril and try to focus on your breathing.
3. Belly Breathing
Belly breathing is more physical than other breathing techniques. No, you will not exercise for this one. Instead, you will lie flat on your back and breathe through your nostrils.
As you breathe, place your hand on top of your belly to focus on the movement inside. Inhale through your nostrils and focus on your belly rising. When you exhale, contract your belly to help push out all the air out through the nostrils, too.
Most people don’t notice but when they do deep breathing, their belly tends to do the opposite. For example, when you inhale, your belly should rise as it takes in air.
However, some people mistake it by contracting their belly. This will only create stress in your lungs. So when you do belly breathing, try to be mindful of how your belly moves.
4. Mantra Breathing
Lastly, you have mantra breathing. Mantra breathing works by having a mantra in your head that you repeat over and over again. If you are under the weather, this is the perfect breathing technique to do.
Start by closing your eyes and repeating your power mantra in your head. As you focus on its words, try to inhale simultaneously.
If this is too difficult, you can inhale and then hold your breath to say the mantra in your head. And then shortly after, exhale.
Breathing exercises sound like they are meant for meditation or relaxation. Although this is true, they can also do wonders to your brain and heart especially when pressure is starting to build up in those areas. You can also try these techniques as a momentary break from stress.