Breathe in…Breathe out… Part II

Breathing While Exercising Part II- Breathing While Running

By Afriqiyah Woods, PT

During aerobic activity breathing seems somewhat involuntary.  It is important to use your lungs as much as possible during aerobic activity due to the high demand of oxygen.  A diaphragmatic (or belly breathing) technique should be followed without letting the chest rise or fall.  Diaphragmatic breathing allows for your muscles to receive oxygen during intense moments of exercise.  On a daily average, depending on the activity, a person breathes 17,000- 50,000 times.   

While starting a running program experts recommend a “3:2 inhale-to-exhale ratio”.   That means fully inhaling on the LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes and fully exhaling on the RIGHT, LEFT foot strikes.  This breathing technique while running will increase oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide release, and ideally lower the overall heart rate.  During faster paced running as you near the finish line it is common for runners to drop to a 2:1 ratio. 

Start at a comfortable pace while you are finding your rhythm. Adjusting the intensity and duration will deliver cardiovascular adaptations and will progressively improve endurance and stamina.

Common Breathing Mistakes Made While Exercising…

  1. Holding breath
  2. Taking Shallow Breaths
  3. Breathing quickly
  4. Breathing too deeply
  5. Inhaling or exhaling at the incorrect time

Incorrect breathing patterns can adversely affect proper movement, posture, coordination and its effect on muscles.

To avoid potential harm while starting a new running program, it is advised to get clearance from your doctor and have a physical therapist initiate, monitor, and advance your training program.  Feelings of dizziness, headaches, or fatigue can occur when breathing improperly.

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