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When the body is under stress or engages in vigorous activity, respiration rate increases and you tend to take frequent, shallow breaths. This kind of breathing, called chest breathing, is an inefficient way to get oxygen to the blood. Breathing technique during and after exercise alters the effectiveness of the workout and the way you feel afterward. You can use abdominal, or diaphragmatic, breathing exercises to calm the body after a workout.
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in. When you inhale deeply, the hand on your belly should rise higher than the one on your chest.
Exhale slowly through the mouth. Allow the cheeks to puff out and blow the air out slowly, as if you're blowing out a candle.
Take a slow, deep breath through your nose. Hold the breath for a count of seven, or as long as you are able, but not exceeding a count of seven.
Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of eight. As you release the air, gently contract your abdominal muscles to push the remaining air from the lungs.
Repeat the breathing cycle four more times for a total of five deep breaths. Try to modify your breathing rate to one breath every 10 seconds, or six breaths per minute.
- You can do abdominal breathing exercises any time you feel stressed or anxious as a way to stimulate the relaxation response.