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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Stop Missing This *Other* Key Benefit of Exercising Outdoors

To the extent epiphanies come to me in life, they often happen while I’m running. Being physical and “getting out of my head” frees my mind. Thoughts aren’t required or even expected – they can just come as they may. And that’s frequently when the most original, creative or useful ones arrive.

And something about running in particular nurtures this. Something struck me while running a couple of days ago, and I think it’s highly relevant to your life as well as mine, brother.

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Running Form: Try These Two SIMPLE Adjustments on Your Next Run

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Based on my own experimentation with this stuff, though, I recommend you try these two form tweaks. They are 100% easy to understand, and don’t mess with your basic running style.

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Digital Detox: Less Screen Time, More Body-and-Soul Time

No doubt, man – maintaining endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and exercise-supported peace-of-mind in the second half of our lives takes meaningful time. Four or more days per week.

Major challenge: “We never have enough time” is a truism that is nonetheless true. But if you’re determined to feel great, look good, be happy and live long…exercise needs to be a non-negotiable part of who you are.

So, what should you do?

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

Does your tracker or sports watch have a heart-rate function? Or have you used cardio equipment with built-in HR measurement? If so, you may be aware of the so-called “Fat Burn” heart-rate zone.

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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