Breathing is a fascinating process that, unlike many other natural processes in the body, can be done voluntarily or involuntarily and can be done with one of two body parts.
You can breathe through the mouth (this is a great alternative to breathing through the nose when unpleasant smells surround your area or when you want to win a bet by pretending you can hold your breath longer while secretly breathing nasally) or through your nose. Breathing through the nose offers several advantages. This inconspicuous holder of glasses and canvas for piercings offers a filtration system that keeps out certain types of pollution from entering your system. The oftentimes plucked nose hairs also play a key role in this.
Moreover, the nose acts as a heating system to warm up the air entering your lungs. We are just at the tip of the nose of describing the miracle that is breathing and already have a sophisticated heater and a filtration system.
Dare we go on?
Once you pick a breathing orifice of choice, we can truly explore what breathing does for the body. These are benefits in addition to passing life-sustaining oxygen through the body and powering everything from your brain to your muscles.
- Manages stress
Certainly the key part to managing your stress is removing the stressful elements out of your life. However, controlled breathing plays an important role in helping you manage the symptoms of stress. Deep breaths help to release endorphins and enkephalins into the system. These help you relax in stressful situations. This is why focusing on breathing through meditation or yoga is seen as a de-stressing and relaxing activity.
- Helps to reduce anxiety
Once again, breathing can help manage the symptoms but it is important to remove the cause itself. Controlled breathing still plays a crucial role in helping to provide the lost mental equilibrium. This type of breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. This nervous system, unlike the sympathetic system, is responsible for calming and peaceful activities. The stimulation of the vagus nerve releases a calming neurotransmitter, called acetylcholine.
- Helps to grow vital capacity of lungs
The bigger the lung capacity; the faster the distribution of oxygen throughout your body is. However, you don’t have to simply accept the capacity of lungs you’ve been dealt. Deep breathing through regular exercise can increase the vital capacity of your lungs.
- Helps you fall asleep
Once again, the calming effect of deep breaths helps you fall asleep. The effects that help with aforementioned anxiety and stress management also contribute to this. It acts as a natural tranquilizer.
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
Controlled breathing also helps to reduce hearth rate and lower blood pressure by employing the vagus nerve that is responsible, among other tasks, for lowering heart rate. This, in turn, results in a myriad of health benefits that could possibly otherwise result from or be worsened by high blood pressure.
Breathing should not be a luxury and The Lung Association is committed to focus on life-giving research, advocating for changes that make breathing easier and providing health information.
For more information visit www.lung.ca.