Benefits of deep breathing

There’s more to it than simply keeping you alive.

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: 

1. Lowers blood pressure and heart rate

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.  

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2. Relaxes your body

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

Try this hack 

Here’s a basic how-to guide to follow:7

  1. Start by settling comfortably in your chair or lying down on your back.
  2. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach just below your rib cage.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose, ensuring your stomach inflates while your chest remains as still as possible.
  4. As you exhale through your mouth, tighten your stomach so it moves inwards while your chest remains unmoving.
  5. Repeat.

And there you have it, you breath-master!


  1. National Cancer Institute. Diaphragmatic breathing. Accessed July 3, 2023.
  2. Complementary therapies in clinical practice. Effects of diaphragmatic deep breathing exercises on perhypertensive or hypertensive adults: A literature review. Accessed July 3, 2023.
  3. NPR. Daily ‘breath training’ can work as well as medicine to reduce high blood pressure. Accessed July 3, 2023.
  4. JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports. Effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing for reducing physiological and psychological stress in adults: A quantitative systematic review. Accessed July 3, 2023.
  5. BetterHealth Channel. Breathing to reduce stress. Accessed July 3, 2023.
  6. Frontiers in Psychology. The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Accessed July 3, 2023.
  7. Cleveland Clinic. Diaphragmatic Breathing. Accessed July 3, 2023.