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Body of Evidence: Breathing Space

How respiration supports perspiration—proper breathing enables muscle exertion.

Name : Anthony Nehra

Profession : Fitness trainer

Anthony Nehra is vitally aware of the role rhythmic breathing plays in his favorite recreational activity, swimming: "If you don't get it right, everything is off. You tire. Muscles hurt. Your stroke gets sloppy." The New York City fitness guru finds little direct carryover from swimming to land-based sports, but he does note that proper breathing enables all muscle exertion and that it is especially important to exhale when producing force. Stress, he notes, automatically makes breathing fast and shallow. "But you can take back control simply by changing your breathing."

  • The Pose That Refreshes

    Yoga exercise 20 minutes three times a week for six weeks improves breathing capacity. Such Hatha yoga postures as the cat, tree, and camel increase expansion of the chest wall and the volume of exhaled air. Yoga may give a special boost to those with asthma.

  • Why Hostility Takes Your Breath Away—Literally

    Longstanding anger and hostility compromise lung function and accelerate the decline in lung power that normally occurs in aging. Anger and hostility alter many bodily processes; the effects overlap with, and compound, reactions to physical and psychological stress, adding to wear and tear on the body.

  • Higher Math

    As bad as cigarettes are for you, one cannabis joint has the same impact on your lungs as smoking five cigarettes at once. Pot damages the large airways of the lungs, blocking airflow and forcing the lungs to work harder.

  • Redeeming Moves

    Moderate to high levels of regular physical activity mitigate the effects of smoking on the lungs and reduce the likelihood that smokers will develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Exercise suppresses lung inflammation caused by smoking.

  • Don't Stifle That Yawn

    At last, scientists know why we engage in that deep inhalation followed by short exhale known as a yawn—to cool the brain. The facial muscle movement of a yawn increases cerebral blood flow, which draws heat from the brain. Similarly, the mouth-gaping and deep draft of cool air into the lungs lowers the temperature of blood in the brain by convection. Cooling your noggin keeps you mentally on your toes.

Sources :

American Physiological Society meeting; Thorax ; American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine ; Evolutionary Psychology.