Er, Don’t Take My Breath Away?

You take my breath away.

I could hardly catch my breath.

We waited with bated breath.

Okay, so we all know that breathing is important, but have you ever stopped to think about it? I didn’t until I was diagnosed with anxiety and told I was holding mine entirely too much. Apparently, when anxious, a person really does hold her breath. And being anxious a lot? Not so good for a creature who needs oxygen to survive.

As I write this blog post, it’s actually Monday. I have sent both of my children to school for the first time, and I have had the house to myself. It’s quiet. It’s eerily quiet, so quiet that I’m sure I could hear pins drop and paramecium stirring. I played on the computer this morning, read a book, watched some TV, and finally got around to exercising. While exercising, my good pal Jillian reminded me to keep breathing, and I thought to myself, “How silly! Everyone knows you should breathe through your exercises, exhaling on the harder parts.”

Color me embarrassed a few minutes later as I sat in the long line at the bank and realized I wasn’t breathing. Well, obviously, I was breathing or I wouldn’t be here, but I was catching my breath and holding on to it rather than letting it go so I could draw in another one. I know it sounds weird–I may be the first person diagnosed with wake apnea—but this is important stuff.

We need oxygen to digest our food. Our muscles need oxygen when we work out. Basically, we need plenty of breaths to burn fat, and I think it’s safe to say that not breathing often enough or deeply enough has a negative effect on weight loss efforts. Many experts cite the deep breathing in yoga as being helpful for increased metabolism, and that’s one reason why one of my future projects will be yoga. (Stay tuned to see if I can get someone to take a picture of me in an embarrassing pose.)

In the meantime, take a moment to see if you’re breathing deeply enough. Sit up tall and put a hand on your tummy.  Breathe in and out. Can you feel movement? Do your shoulders rise and fall? What did you find out? Are you breathing enough for both or us, or are you a candidate for wake apnea, too?

Wanna read more about breathing? Here are a couple of links from the Livestrong web site that helped me confirm my suspicions.

Breathing Exercises that Increases Metabolism

How Does Deep Breathing Help You Lose Weight


7 responses to “Er, Don’t Take My Breath Away?”

  1. How interesting that deep breathing can help you lose weight. When I’m working out regularly, I think my breathing in general is better and deeper. When I haven’t gotten to the gym lately, my breathing may be a little too shallow at times. Something to think about…

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      That is the exact same observation that I made. I breather better and stand up straighter when I exercise more.

  2. MaryC says:

    Sally, that’s fascinating about breathing and anxiety. When I was working in an office and sharing space, my coworker commented on how much I sigh. I wasn’t even aware of it. Now you’ve got me wondering if when I sigh, I’m releasing breath I’ve been holding.

    I’ve also been reading a lot about specific breathing being a way to lower blood pressure so I did an experiment the other day. I kept a finger on my pulse (I tried neck, temple and wrist) and monitored it as I did the deep breaths. Each time, the rate dropped significantly on the slow exhale.

    Michelle, I have read that about deep breathing helping weight loss. I remember it being the cover story on some magazine I bought a few years ago.

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      I knew about the correlation between high blood pressure and sleep apnea, so I should have mentioned that. My Dad has high blood pressure and sleep apnea. I keep trying to convince him to go to a sleep clinic. Not been so successful thus far.

  3. I actually have to deal with this too. I will catch myself having not taken a deep breath in who knows how long. And when I do that I also realize that my muscles are tense. I have to tell myself to relax my muscles and breath. Seems silly, doesn’t it, but I think it’s fairly common.

    • Sally Kilpatrick says:

      I’m glad I’m not alone. I think the main take-away is that exercise helps us not get into that shallow breathing habit. Of course, we all know we need to do it already. : )

  4. Never thought about this, Sally. Seriously. This is very important and something I am going to have to keep an eye on. Not sure if I’m a breath holder or not.

    Thanks for bringing this up. You are right about it having the potential to cause problems.


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