Regular breathing and proper posture when exercising is important

Holding your breath and poor posture are two mistakes that can easily sideline you with an injury and keep you from your weekly exercise routine.

Proper posture and breathing may sound like simple things to remember during exercise but all too often injuries like muscle strains and even falling can occur when you fail to maintain good posture and inadvertently hold your breath during exertion.  

Good posture helps the body to function effectively and will minimize muscle strain and injury. During exercise, whether you are sitting or standing, your body will potentially be in several different positions. If you add weights, such as dumbbells used for strength training, or increase your exercise intensity to a vigorous level remember to maintain proper form and posture. If you are lax on your posture or form you can easily sustain an injury and be sidelined. Take the time to learn proper body alignment and be mindful about how your body is feeling. Pain could be an indicator of incorrect form or posture.

Michigan State University Extension teaches the following posture recommendations:

  • Keep your neck in line with your spine
  • Keep your chin aligned with your neck, ears over shoulders
  • Keep your back straight
  • Keep your shoulders back, relaxed and down
  • Keep your knees relaxed do not lock them
  • Keep your pelvis slightly tucked under, belly button pulled back towards your spine

Holding your breath during certain physical activities is a common mistake that can have significant consequences. Each breath you take during exercise provides vital oxygen to help you perform a task. When you reduce the number of breaths you take you inadvertently reduce your oxygen supply depleting your ability to be efficient. It is not uncommon for a person to unknowingly stop breathing for several seconds when they are performing a strenuous exercise especially if they are exerting themselves more than normal. A fitness instructor can spot this mistake when faces start to turn red or if someone feels dizzy or lightheaded. 

Unconsciously holding your breath can be due to the level of concentration needed when learning a new task or technique. Understand that deep consistent breathing helps give your body the oxygen it craves. Become mindful of your breathing, notice if you are prone to holding your breath and make necessary adjustments. 

When using free weights or resistance bands be sure to take a full breath before you start to move and then begin to exhale as you lift the weight. A frequently used tip that prevents holding your breath is counting out loud. You will automatically inhale and exhale as you count out your repetitions. Another benefit to counting is hearing your voice and being aware of your pace to prevent lifting and lowering weights too quickly. 

Whether you are an avid exercise enthusiast or just getting started proper posture for prevention of injury and stable breathing to maximize your oxygen needs are both imperative to keep you safely in the action and working towards your fitness goals.

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