The benefits of slow breathing and why it’s vital to health
October 30th, 2021,
7 min read
As the days get shorter and shorter, taking care of our bodies is more important than ever. Seasonal changes affect our health in subtle ways. Taking care of your health is more than ‘just’ enjoying a healthy diet, sleeping well, and exercising regularly - taking care of your breath is also of crucial importance. Why?
When you breathe slowly, your nervous system calms down. It will find the balance that’s needed to function in an optimal, healthy way. The healthier your nervous system, the higher your heart rate variability, the faster you are able to switch gears, showing more resilience and flexibility.
Science shows the ideal breathing rate is 5 to 7 breaths per minute. Slow breathing is a simple exercise that leads to numerous benefits for overall health and well-being. We listed the top slow-breathing benefits.
Your immune system keeps colds away. It’s your body’s front lines in the fight against illness. The benefits of slow breathing aren’t limited to ‘just’ psychological (calmer mind) and physical (calmer body) benefits, engaging in slow breathing exercises on a regular basis can also positively impact your immune system.
Slow breathing (or: belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing) helps expand your lungs and increases efficiency in oxygen absorption and supply. It massages all your organs, strengthens the muscles of your chest, improves your digestion and the quality of your sleep.
Kind note: breathing through your nose is the way to go. Nasal breathing warms, filters, and humidifies inhaled air before it reaches the lower respiratory tract. Our nasal passages are able to filter bacteria and viruses in the air. It’s for a good reason they say: the mouth is for eating, the nose for breathing ;-)
Slow breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness, in both your body and mind. Slow breathing techniques help shut off your monkey mind and make you feel connected to your body. It helps to bring your awareness away from all the worries in your head.
On the other hand: improper breathing can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange and contribute to anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, and other physical and emotional disturbances.
So every time your head is spinning with anxious thoughts that don’t serve you, try to sit down in a quiet space for a few minutes to practice a slow breathing exercise. And then, just experience how relieved you might feel after.
When you’re feeling stressed and your muscles are all tense, it can not only result in all sorts of pain in your body, it can also make your pain even worse. Slow breathing exercises can help you break this cycle. By taking a moment to consciously slow down your breathing, your body and mind relax, tension can be released and pain can decrease.
Moreover, not only does breathing slowly relax your body, but it also causes your body to release endorphins - chemicals in your brain that help you feel good. Endorphins also play a very important role in decreasing your perception of pain.
Slow, deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in your body. When you breathe slowly, your brain gets the message that everything is safe and it’s okay to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body.
When you feel stressed, you will experience an increased heart rate, fast and shallow breathing, muscle tension, and high blood pressure. All these things decrease and slow down as you breathe deeply to relax.
Once you learn how to breathe slowly by practicing regularly (moonbird can be of great help), you can also turn to this exercise during times of heightened stress. Calm down your breathing and your body and mind will follow, it’s a law of nature. So whether you have an important presentation coming up at work or a demanding situation to take care of elsewhere, taking a pause to breathe slowly can make all the difference.
Slow breathing calms you down. How can it then increase your energy levels? You might think that slow breathing only puts you in a resting state and causes your energy levels to decrease, however, the opposite is true.
Because of slow breathing, you supply your blood with higher levels of oxygen. This way the cells in your body get more of the vital fuel they need, which helps you to increase your overall energy. This also plays an important part in allowing you to feel more calm, focused, and alert throughout the day. Steady as a rock!
Slow, deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for your system to rest, digest and connect. When you activate this part of the autonomic nervous system, your heart rate slows down and your blood vessels dilate, helping your overall blood pressure to reduce.
Slow breathing can keep your entire cardiovascular system strong and healthy, making you feel more healthy and relaxed in every way.
Knowing slow breathing is vital to your health is one thing, practicing slow breathing is something else. Often it’s easier said than done to incorporate breathing exercises into your day. To make it effortlessly - and even fun - we created moonbird, to guide you through slow breathing exercises, everywhere you go, anytime you need it.
Find out more about what breathing with moonbird can do for you.
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