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The Benefits of Deep Breathing

Posted Aug 24 2008 5:40pm 1 Comment


Let's start this with a bit of introduction to the way I try to present health related information. Years of surfing (the web) have helped to develop my trust in certain sources. I agree with this CNN health article offering "Tips for Savvy Medical Web Surfing" and tend to steer clear of all the latest wonder drug and herb websites.

"Scientific" research can be slanted to the benefit of the funding source or researcher, to the same degree as the latest and hottest diet guru's claims. We're aiming for self-responsibility here, so if what you read sounds true for you, consider it and try it. If not, sigh (but with a deep exhalation) and know that I meant well. :D


1. Promotes Relaxation. Taking deep and slow breaths, is the quickest way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system into the relaxation response.When we're stressed or frightened, our breathing is shallow and rapid (among other physical responses) and we're ready to fight or flee. When the stressor is gone, we breathe a sigh of relief and the brain receives signals that say, "All is well".

2. Eliminates Toxins. Your lymphatic system relies on body movement to flush out cellular waste and toxins. The action of your diaphragm in deep breathing massages your inner organs and stimulates lymphatic flow, much like the way your heart pumps blood through your body.

3. Improves mental clarity and relieves the effects of depression and anxiety. Much in the same way that it promotes relaxation.

4. Burns Fat. When you exercise, too fast or too slow, your body doesn't receive enough oxygen and burns glycogen rather than fat. Deep breathing strengthens your cardiovascular system so that you're able to exercise aerobically, and efficiently burn fat.

Illustration: USC Health Magazine

Resources: (1) Marcelle Pick, Deep Breathing - the Truly Essential Exercise, Women to Women . (2), Fitness Habits - Nurturing Ourselves Through Movement.

Comments (1)
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Deep breathing promotes relaxation, but it also needs to be done in a relaxing way. If you take a deep breath by tensing up your rib cage muscles, upper shoulders, neck or any other muscles, you will create other problems. Learning how to breathe deeply, correctly, means letting the breath fill down toward the belly before it rises up again; all the while keeping the muscles I must mentioned relaxed. If you tense the neck, for instance, you can create problems for your cervical spine, thyroid gland, jaw joints and more. You might disrupt your voice, your ability to digest well, and your glandular balance.

For most people, learning this more relaxing way of deep breathing takes quite a bit of practice. But it is worth it. It takes some time, but the rewards are many. Dr. Robert B Bates at

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