Within Every Man’s Control: Benefits of Deep Breathing

Much recent scientific and “self-help industry” attention is being paid to the benefits of deep, controlled breathing. But there’s only so much time in the day, or so many personal “projects” or special routines you can really practice.

Breathing exercises or meditation may sound like “just one MORE thing I know is good for me, but probably won’t do.”

Here is great news for guys whose fitness routine is consistent with OlderBeast principles: yoga and swimming provide “controlled breathing” benefits at the same time that you’re working on strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.

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Breathing is one of the few body functions that is both involuntary and voluntary.

You don’t need to think about it; it just happens. In fact, it’s happened (literally) more than 75 million times every decade you’ve been alive. Who says you’re not productive?

But, you can think about and control breathing of course. Much recent scientific and “self-help industry” attention is being paid to the benefits of doing so.

Deep and Rhythmic Breathing: Health & Wellness Benefits

Reduced stress and anxiety; this is not just a mental “mood” thing – it’s about actual stress hormone reduction

Boosted immunity

Better sleep

Reduced depression and ADD symptoms

Heightened sense of calm and well-being (this is the flip side of reduced stress – but listed here again because it’s so central to enjoying our precious time here on earth)

A lot of what meditation is about, in fact, is combining controlled breathing with techniques for mental de-cluttering (with the former helping achieve the latter). Or, you can do breathing exercises without attempting the full-blown mediation part as much.

How Yoga and Swimming Bring This Benefit (Along with Many Others)

But there’s only so much time in the day, or so many personal “projects” or special routines you can really practice.

All this might sound like “just one MORE thing I know is good for me, but probably won’t do.” If so, I hear you, brother.

Here is great news for guys whose fitness routine is consistent with OlderBeast principles: yoga and swimming, two fitness pillars I’ve urged you to include, provide “controlled breathing” benefits while you are working on strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.

A typical yoga practice lasts 45 to 75 minutes. For almost all that time, you are breathing in a deep, even fashion. So in addition to all of yoga’s other benefits for 40+ guys, as a huge bonus you get these controlled-breathing benefits.

In perhaps a less obvious way, swimming provides this too.  Swimming affords only occasional, evenly-timed opportunities to breathe in, and then promotes a continuous longer exhale. This is much different from how you breathe sitting at a desk, walking down the street, or even running or cycling.

Also, because you’re essentially in an isolation tank while swimming, it may be the most meditative activity there is, short of actual meditation.  Taken together with swimming’s other killer benefits for the OlderBeast, this is why I so strongly urge you to add swimming into your mix, man.

Eventually, You May Do Mindful Breathing At Other Times

One cool thing I’ve found: once yoga and/or swimming make you more conscious of how controlled breathing makes you feel, you do start using this at other times during the day.

Not necessarily in a specific “breathing exercise” way, but just as a quick reset and refresh any time you might feel some stress, some fatigue, or the urge to get that “up above it all” calm and centered feeling that’s a valuable commodity in daily life.

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The metaphor of our bodies as a machine might be clichéd, but it really is true.  Thinking that way, nutrition is literally the raw materials and fuel we put into the machine…and breathing is how the combustion happens for the machine to work.  This is not a trivial thing, if you’re focused on maximizing your fitness, health, happiness and longevity.

So keep on breathing…and make some of that breathing deep and controlled via your choice of fitness activities!

“Breathe, breathe in the air.  Don’t be afraid to care.” (Pink Floyd, Breathe)

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Make Time for Strength: Embrace the “Mini Session”

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For guys who gravitate to endurance/cardio—or guys emphasizing it for weight management—here’s a practical way to also work on strength during your week: add 1-2 “mini strength sessions.”

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High-Intensity Intervals (HITT) or Longer/Moderate Workouts? Why You Need Some of Each.

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Based on my own experience, a review of what experts are saying, and some simple logic about “why we exercise,” I think the answer is to seek the best of both worlds here.

Incorporate some HIIT benefits into your routine, but do also retain some longer, moderate cardio workouts. Here’s why, and some tips for getting started.

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Fitness & the 5 Stages of Fatherhood

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Getting and staying fit – via exercise, nutrition and mind-and-spirit wellness – is one of the most important things you can do to improve and sustain your life and your enjoyment of it. For the benefit of yourself and your children.

So, with “uber” life goals in mind, commitments to fathering and fitness SHOULD go hand in hand.

But day-to-day, it’s not always easy to pull off both. Precious time spent with kids heightens time pressure we already feel from work and other “pre-kids” obligations. Fitness is often what gets squeezed out.

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You Forget How to Ride a Bike? Didn’t Think So. 8 Reasons to Start Cycling Again.

For 40+ guys seeking a “decades-long” plan for physical fitness, incorporating cycling into your routine is a great thing.

But even though we all remember how to ride a bike, sometimes it doesn’t feel so simple. There are impediments to getting back in the saddle.

With summer here, let’s take a quick look at ALL the reasons why you should pick this up again, man. And let’s discuss how to overcome the impediments, to get you out there.

2 Comments
  1. Doug 8 months ago
    Reply

    Looking forward to the “above it all calm”…I will be adding swimming into my routine. As I’ve noticed more shallow breathing as this beast gets older. Lots of upside benefits in this article than I was previously aware of. Thanks!

  2. […] 2. Focus on your breathing. Try 5-7 cycles of a deep inhale for about four seconds, a brief breath-hold, then a slow exhale for four seconds. You will literally reduce your pulse and create other physiological benefits from this simple exercise. Here’s more on the benefits of controlled breathing. […]

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