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Have you ever considered how the way you breathe could benefit your health? Well, here is your introduction to diaphragmatic breathing and how to use it as a health hack.
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, uses your diaphragm — a dome shaped-muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen — and abdominal muscles to pass air into the lower portion of your lungs. Using more lung capacity than typical chest breathing,1 this type of breathing creates a much deeper breath and comes with some great benefits:
A literature of thirteen studies found that not only did diaphragmatic breathing help lower blood pressure, but the apparent optimal amount of time to practice diaphragmatic breathing is ten minutes twice a day for at least four weeks.2
Given its effect on blood pressure, researchers are even experimenting with strengthening the diaphragm muscle using resistance inhaler devices.3 Similar to working out other muscles, the idea is that a stronger diaphragm will have even better effects on heart health and high blood pressure.
Curious about other areas of your heart health? Assess your cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose level and more with imaware’s at-home Baseline Heart Health Test.
Diaphragmatic breathing reduces muscle tension, making it a common exercise during yoga and other relaxation classes, but why stop there? Use it to relax when you are trying to fall asleep or need a brief reprieve during a busy work day.
This practice is also useful for managing feelings of anxiety or stress — studies have found that diaphragmatic breathing makes a difference physiologically and psychologically.4 When we feel anxious or stressed, our body has a fight or flight response, which results in rapid, shallow breathing and an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. Diaphragmatic breathing not only slows breathing which helps relax our body and mind but, according to certain studies, it contributes to lower cortisol levels.56
Here’s a basic how-to guide to follow:7
And there you have it, you breath-master!