Improving Health


The Healing Benefits of Deep Breathing

Posted by Sarah McDougal on November 3, 2021

Respi Health-jpg“For breath is life, so if you breathe well, you will live long on earth.” - Sanskrit Proverb

You take 25,000 breaths every day. While these breaths don’t require conscious effort or thought, the way you breathe impacts everything from your psychological well-being to your physical health.

You take 25,000 breaths every day. While these breaths don’t require conscious effort or thought, the way you breathe impacts everything from your psychological well-being to your physical health.

Deep Slow Breathing is an easily accessible technique that has many health benefits. This slow, deep breathing method can be tapped into and can help you better manage diseases such as high blood pressure, lung diseases, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. Deep Slow Breathing is something that ANYONE can do. It’s easy to learn and involves no special tools or equipment.

Incorporating Deep Slow Breathing: Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

Deep Slow Breathing is what it sounds like: controlled, slow breaths. This ancient yogic breathing technique can help you gain control over your breathing as well as your health. Dr. Andrew Weil described this as a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system.” It can provide an oxygen boost to tissues while calming the mind. So, let’s try it! First, find a place to sit down or lie comfortably. Then:

  • Exhale completely through your lips, allowing for a whooshing sound.
  • Next, inhale through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold onto that breath for 7 seconds.
  • Exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds, allowing for a whooshing sound.

Repeat this for four full breaths. This can be done as often as desired, but it’s recommended to do at least 3 consecutive repetitions within a day. Deep Slow Breathing is a vital lifestyle practice that can help you manage overall health and wellness. Now that we’ve established what Deep Slow Breathing is, let’s dive into the associated health benefits.

Pain Management:

Research suggests that Deep Slow Breathing might help with managing certain chronic conditions and limit the use of drug treatment in chronic pain management. Studies have found that due to the relaxation involved with Deep Slow Breathing, the body undergoes a sympathetic response which impacts mood and pain processing. Participants that engaged in regular Deep Slow Breathing techniques demonstrated improved mood and increased pain threshold in those studies.

Mental Health:

Deep Slow Breathing is encouraged for an improved state of mind. In the realm of mental health, it has been found to improve anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Interestingly, because it can help you better manage stress, studies have also found that it can be used to manage epilepsy and asthma, since both are often triggered by stress. How does deep breathing reduce stress? In short, when this breathing strategy is employed, signals in the body instruct the brain to relax. In addition, slow breathing has been linked to enhanced memory because inhaling triggers electrical activity in the brain, mainly in the hippocampus region, which aids in memory.

Heart Health:

The relaxation that ensues from Deep Slow Breathing promotes a reduction in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate. As the breath slows and deepens, the demand on the heart lessens. This allows the heart rate to slow and allows for the Heart Rate Variability to increase. Heart Rate Variability is the time between the beats of your heart. Studies show that an increased Heart Rate Variability is linked with heart health and increased longevity. The practice of Deep Slow Breathing may increase Heart Rate Variability over time, which is a great way to reduce the risk of cardiac events.

Lung Health:

Deep breathing can help enhance lung function. The American Lung Association states that by practicing breathing exercises such as Deep Slow Breathing, the diaphragm is strengthened and taught to begin working at full capacity instead of relying on other muscles such as in the neck and back for breathing. By practicing deep slow breathing, you strengthen your lungs and diaphragm so that you’re able to breathe more efficiently. Breathing is simple enough - we do it daily without conscious thought or effort, but the complexity lies within the technique. A great place to start is to simply pay attention to your breath. Notice the rhythm – and try to slow it down. This alone has benefits. Your breath is an easily accessible, powerful tool that can work wonders for your health and well-being – so tap into it!



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Sarah McDougal

About The Author

Sarah McDougal

Sarah McDougal is a registered dietitian and the manager of the health coaching program at CareATC. In addition to managing coaches, Sarah creates and edits wellness content that is used in the CareATC coaching program. Sarah is passionate about wellness, health promotion and preventative medicine and she fully believes in the power of food as medicine! When she’s not at work, Sarah is likely spending time with her family, cooking, honing her amateur gardening skills, running, or stretching on her yoga mat.

Post Topics Healthy Lifestyles