Rethinking Exercise – Breathing
We all know we should exercise. It’s becoming more of a necessity than a luxury to maintain any basic level of life quality these days. 35% of the US population is obese and that number is growing, yet fitness and exercise is a multi-billion industry and also growing. How can this be? We live in arguably the most advanced technological point in history yet a large portion of our population is fat, sick and just plain unhealthy, both mentally and physically. This is a multi-fold issue that all of us are aware of how to fix ourselves.
Good old fashioned nutrition, exercise, rest & recovery, in that order.
Specifically, calculated and then intuitive, it has to become autonomous. This is what “exercise” is or should be considered as such. Taking personal responsibility for what you eat, how often, how intense and when you move, what type of movement you engage in. What you eat and drink following said “exercise” and how much good quality sleep you get. Every single day, be conscious and present about choices you make in regard to those categories. This will maximize your hormonal function giving you the healthy results you want. Health and fitness. Better days while you’re here.
So when rethinking exercise, think of it as a “breathe first”, move second activity.
At SOS kettlebell the first thing and the last thing you are instructed on is how to breathe properly during exercise. I harp on this constantly. This is the single most important training skill to learn, practice and develop because oxygen is the most valuable nutrient to the human body but also mastering breathing can maximize rep tension leading to better exercise results.
You need to practice diaphragmatic breathing.
This means taking breaths in through the nose with lips closed and then exhaling through the lips. Exercise is intense enough and can become unhealthy when engaged in without proper breathing. With dysfunctional breathing, especially during exercise stress hormones are released causing a cascade of nasty health issues as a result over time. We can help control some of the major health issues we’re facing as a society today such as anxiety, depression, and mental stress disorders with breathing and body weight exercises performed just a few minutes per day. Heavy weight training and intense exercise are great for this too, as long as the breathing is matching the movement and the person is focused on learning proper form.
The key is consistency.
This is the second most important aspect of rethinking exercise. Do something daily to advance your movement quality = quality of life. Intensity is necessary but so is a variety of intensity. You can have intensity and consistency but you can’t have consistent intensity. You will burn out or get injured with too much intensity over time. It needs to be realistic and sustainable. If you are not able to breathe through an exercise you are not able to benefit or progress from that exercise. We find out where our movement is at and test this daily with joint mobility exercises.
Sit less. Get up and move more, especially if you sit most of the day.
As a society, you can observe that our mobility begins to diminish around first or second grade. Sitting in school all day, ankles start to tighten, hip flexors shorten, glutes weaken, shoulders and head fall forward and place stress on the lumbar. This is where the dysfunctional movement begins. The chair is the new cancer. Chairs wreak havoc on our bodies. Think of exercise as a daily way to fight this. Stand or walk equal amounts that you are on a seat, chair, or couch. Floor sitting doesn’t count. So chairs and sitting are all around us; what can we do about it? Find a smart form of exercise to practice. One that you will stay consistent with that doesn’t increase your risk of injury and beat you up too bad.
Do daily joint mobility/movement/exercise that will improve joint health, flexibility and reverse the effects of the chair. Walk more. Take the stairs. Stand more. Make planned calculated nutritional choices. Stop, breathe in through the nose with lips closed pushing the stomach outward for 8 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, then breath out through the lips for 7 seconds. After that, commit to taking responsibility for your personal health and fitness plan.
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