Breathing is a fundamental aspect of our existence, yet we often take it for granted.
Most people breathe shallowly, using only a small fraction of their lung capacity...
But what if I told you that you could dramatically improve your health and well-being by simply changing the way you breathe? This is the promise of functional breathing.
"That kind of sounded like an infomercial hahaha, anyway"
Functional breathing is a term used to describe a way of breathing that optimises the function of our respiratory system. This involves breathing deeply and slowly through the nose, using the diaphragm muscle to expand the lungs and deliver oxygen to the body.
Science-Backed Benefits of Functional Breathing
Improved Oxygenation When we breathe functionally, we deliver more oxygen to our cells, tissues and organs, which in turn enhances their function. Research has shown that functional breathing can increase blood oxygen levels by up to 15%.
Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Functional breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to reduce stress and anxiety levels. It also reduces the production of the stress hormone cortisol, leading to greater relaxation and better sleep.
Improved Immune Function: Studies have found that functional breathing can stimulate the production of immune cells, such as T-lymphocytes and natural killer cells. This can help to boost our immune system and protect against illness and disease.
Enhanced Athletic Performance: Functional breathing can help athletes to improve their endurance and performance. This is because it increases the efficiency of oxygen delivery to the muscles and helps to reduce fatigue.
Improved Digestion: When we breathe functionally, we activate the diaphragm muscle, which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve. This nerve is responsible for regulating the digestive system, leading to better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
"There are two ways to think about functional breathing and because I love a good old analogy here's two examples below"
Understanding Functional Breathing
Think of your body as a car. Just as a car needs fuel to run, your body needs oxygen to function properly. Functional breathing is like filling up your car with high-quality fuel that improves its performance and longevity.
"Another way to think about functional breathing is"
Functional breathing is like a massage for your respiratory system. It helps to loosen up any tension or tightness, leading to greater ease and comfort when breathing.
Three Studies On Functional Breathing
1. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that functional breathing can improve respiratory function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Participants who practiced functional breathing experienced improved lung function and reduced symptoms of shortness of breath.
2. A study published in the International Journal of Yoga found that functional breathing can reduce anxiety and depression levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. Participants who practiced functional breathing experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression symptoms.
3. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that functional breathing can improve athletic performance in endurance athletes. Participants who practiced functional breathing saw improvements in their endurance and performance.
Functional breathing can have a dramatic impact on your life. Here are some of the ways it can change your life for the better:
Improved energy levels: When you breathe functionally, you deliver more oxygen to your cells, leading to greater energy and vitality.
Reduced stress and anxiety: Functional breathing can help to reduce stress and anxiety levels, leading to greater calm and relaxation.
Better sleep: Functional breathing can help to promote deeper, more restful sleep, leading to greater overall health and well-being.
Enhanced athletic performance: Functional breathing can help athletes to improve their endurance and performance, leading to greater success and achievement.
Improved immune function: Functional breathing can help to boost your immune system, leading to greater protection against illness and disease.
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Improve Your Functional Breathing
Step 1: Find a quiet and comfortable place where you won't be disturbed. Sit or lie down in a relaxed position.
Step 2: Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
Step 3: Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling up your lungs and expanding your belly. Your chest should not move much.
Step 4: Slowly exhale through your mouth, making sure to empty your lungs completely.
Step 5: Repeat this deep breathing exercise for a few minutes, focusing on the movement of your belly as you breathe in and out.
Step 6: Gradually increase the length of your inhales and exhales, aiming for a 5-7 second inhale and a 7-9 second exhale.
Step 7: Practice this deep breathing exercise for a few minutes every day, gradually increasing the duration of your practice over time.
Step 8: Incorporate deep breathing into your daily routine, such as taking a few deep breaths before a meeting or practicing deep breathing while exercising.
Practicing these simple steps, you can improve your functional breathing and reap the many benefits it has to offer. Remember to take your time and be patient with yourself as you develop this new habit. Over time, you will notice significant improvements in your physical and mental health, as well as your overall quality of life.
Functional breathing is a simple yet powerful way to improve your health and well-being. By breathing deeply and slowly through your nose, using your diaphragm muscle to expand your lungs, you can enhance your energy and quality of life!
Happy breathing and be sure to share this to help more people to change their breathing for the better!
Chris Walker - Founder Of TravelFit
Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer, Strength and Conditioning Coach, Sports Nutrition Advisor, Breathing Performance Coach, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Coach, Over 10 years experience in the health and fitness industry, while also running his own businesses since 2014 allowing him to implement and practice tools that allowed him to thrive in life.
In the past Chris experienced first hand on how to overcome his own severe anxiety and depression through changing lifestyle habits and behaviours through holistic health.