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Take a Breather

"Breathing tips for pre- and post-workout"
By: Angelica A. De LeonTake a Breather

What is the best way to breathe during exercise? It depends on the physical activity. In general, one should take a few deep breaths before every set. Below are some basic exercises for warm-ups and cool-downs, along with some proper breathing techniques:

Before a workout (warm up)

Stretching

• Take deep but relaxed diaphragmatic breaths (belly breathing) for deeper, fuller breaths, and better oxygen delivery. How to do this:

1. Relax your abdomen.  

2. Breathe deeply enough to make your belly rise when you exhale and fall when you inhale. Take note: It is your belly, not your chest, which will rise and fall as you breathe.  

3. Repeat at your own pace.

• Inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth. This is recommended by most experts.

• Every time you exhale, try to relax more fully.

• Stretching aids in blood circulation, and according to some studies, also helps prevent injury, cramps, and the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles which causes soreness. It also allows the muscles to have a wider range of motion which is essential in a workout or exercise regimen.

After a workout (cool down)

• Performing a few more exercises, like stretching (see tips above), after your workout helps you get back to an “at rest” mode. It also assists in the release of the by-product wastes of exercise while making you more flexible.

• Furthermore, it will “re-align” the muscles which have been “disturbed” during the workout. Muscles are made up of muscle units or groups called fascicles, which are made of up of smaller units. Enabling these muscles to function fully are the fascial sheaths, and a slew of other tiny parts.

• The more strenuous the activity, the more the muscles get “disturbed.” They remain so after the workout. This slows down the recovery process of the muscles. Stretching reportedly “re-aligns” them, and proper breathing during stretches helps make this possible.

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