How “Belly Breathing” Helps During Workouts & For Anytime Stress Management

I guess if there’s any one thing you figure you “know how to do” already, it would be breathing. You’ve been doing it successfully for a while now, yes? 

But we adults have often gotten away from breathing the way a child or an animal does: using our diaphragm and the lower part of our torso (“belly”) to initiate inhales and exhales. Why? Tight pants, self-consciousness, spending a lot of time sitting…there are multiple reasons.

Belly breathing noticeably helps during endurance workouts (consciously try it the next time you hit that tough hill on foot or your bike). It also is great during any “mindful breathing” activity like meditation, or straight-up breathing exercises aimed at stress reduction or sleep inducement. 

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I guess if there’s any one thing you figure you “know how to do” already, it would be breathing. You’ve been doing it successfully for a while now, yes?

But we adults have often gotten away from breathing the way a child or an animal does: using our diaphragm and the lower part of our torso (“belly”) to initiate inhales and exhales. Why? Tight pants, self-consciousness, spending a lot of time sitting…there are multiple reasons.

Belly breathing noticeably helps during endurance workouts (consciously try it the next time you hit that tough hill on foot or your bike). It’s also great during any “mindful breathing” activity like meditation or straight-up breathing exercises aimed at stress reduction or sleep inducement.

Here’s a useful article with a bit more of the Why, and a clear illustration of the How.

Not ready to invest time reading about breathing (need more convincing that breathing is something to actively focus on?). Then please start by reading this on the amazing array of benefits from deep, controlled breathing.

You know, this might seem like a small thing, man. But as we get older…past 40, 50, 60…focusing on these little things can make a big difference in our quest for long-term vitality. So happy breathing, brother.

 

“At night on them banks I’d lie awake. And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take.” (Bruce Springsteen, The River – click to listen). This is the iconic live version of Bruce at the No Nukes concert back when.

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Study Says Running’s the Biggest Life Extender. Give Credit to Runners’ “Architect” Fitness Approach.

This week, the NY Times cited a Cooper Institute study that found running is correlated with a higher increase in life span than any other exercise. (“An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life” – see link below).

The study’s authors acknowledge this is a “correlation” and not “causation” finding. Quick illustration of causation vs. correlation. A guy keeps finding when he sleeps with his clothes and shoes on, he wakes up with a headache. Did sleeping that way cause the headache? No, it was correlated with it (they frequently happen together), with the common root cause being tequila the night before.

My hunch is this finding is an important correlation between running and positive lifespan impact. It’s not the running itself causing incremental benefit vs. other exercise types. Other exercises or mixes thereof can provide the same physical and mind-body benefits. It’s that, critically, runners are likely to have an “Architect” view of their own fitness, and associated sustainable behavior patterns. These are the causative factors behind maximum exercise impact.

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Beware of the Myth of the “Fat Burn” Heart-Rate Zone

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I advise you to “mostly beware” of falling for the allure of this name, man. It sounds too good to be true. “Burn more fat with lower exertion than you would with higher exertion!” And it is too good to be true. However, low-intensity workouts in HR ranges labeled “Fat Burn” do have occasional purposes. Hence my “mostly beware” admonition.

Let’s walk through the facts and logic here, and you can make your own call.

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“Mindfulness” Primer for Guys: Best 10-Minute Investment You Can Make Today!

If you’re trying to take care of yourself in the modern world, you hear the word “mindfulness” a lot. It’s often associated with meditation and yoga. But sometimes also with more “conventional” workouts – especially solitude activities like walking, running and swimming. It’s even an “eating strategy.”

I’ve invested time and energy to understand what mindfulness means and how it can help. But I’m kind of “out there,” I admit. I hang out in yoga studios, am studying psychology and coaching, and read a ton of wellness/new-age-y stuff on the Internet.

You? With a full-time-plus job and many other time-demanding responsibilities and interests — not to mention just trying to cover the “basics” of staying fit and eating well — you’ve probably focused on this less than me.

If you’re like many fitness-minded guys, you have a vague sense of what mindfulness is, but not very specifically. And you don’t really “do” anything with that knowledge.

I think you should go one level deeper here, man. Understanding mindfulness and incorporating it more into your routines will help with all aspects of maximizing your life. With that goal, here’s a brief tour of mindfulness, how it helps, and what you can do to harness its power.

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