- Increasing the strength of your diaphragm
- Reducing the need for oxygen
- Breathing with less effort and energy
Your diaphragm contracts and becomes flat when you inhale air and relaxes to its normal position when you exhale. When practiced intentionally, diaphragmatic breathing improves the efficiency of the lungs and can also help manage stress, calm mood, and improve overall health.
6 health benefits of diaphragmatic breathing
- Reduces blood pressure: Slow breathing is known to reduce sympathetic activity, increasing vasodilation and decreasing blood pressure.
- Improves heart functions: Diaphragmatic breathing increases respiratory muscle strength and endurance. This, in turn, increases the efficiency of respiration and exercise tolerance. Increased exercise tolerance means a reduction of strain on the heart. This is highly beneficial to patients with congestive heart failure.
- Improves respiratory functions: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD) and asthma often have weak respiratory muscles. This may cause occasional episodes of rapid shallow breathing, which can be life-threatening. Diaphragmatic breathing improves the strength of the diaphragm, which decreases breathing disorders and may gradually increase exercise capacity as well.
- Regulates mood: Some studies have suggested that practicing diaphragmatic breathing may help reduce depression, anxiety, and stress.
- Relieves pain: A random controlled study has suggested that slow breathing may alter the perception of painful stimuli and unpleasant emotions, therefore helping relax muscles. Deep breathing may therefore help reduce the intensity of pain.
- Promotes sleep: Based on an assessment of data, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine issued guidelines for the behavioral and psychological management of insomnia. It suggested that relaxation is effective as a standalone therapy for insomnia, although it did not specifically mention the effects of deep breathing. However, some believe that you can achieve relaxation with deep breathing techniques, which in turn could promote better sleep.
How to perform diaphragmatic breathing
Below is a step-by-step procedure for diaphragmatic breathing:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Your back should always be straight with your feet on the floor.
- Close your eyes, place one hand below your ribs and another hand on your chest, and breathe normally.
- Take a slow, deep breath, inhaling through your nose.
- Concentrate on your stomach as it expands below your hand.
- Hold the breath as long as you can and exhale slowly through your mouth.
- Pay attention to how the hand on your stomach moves along with your breath.
- Repeat this process until you establish a soothing rhythm.
- As you inhale, imagine how the oxygen is flowing through your body.
- As you exhale, imagine that you are releasing stress and anxiety from your body.
- Repeat until you feel relaxed and less anxious. Gradually increase the duration of the exercise.
To get the most benefits, it is always recommended to maintain a routine and perform breathing exercises at the same time of the day regularly. Once you have mastered the breathing technique, you may be able to do it wherever you are for a few minutes to relieve stress and anxiety.
Are there risks associated with diaphragmatic breathing?
Initially, diaphragmatic breathing may worsen symptoms of anxiety. However, continued practice and mastery over the technique can help reverse this.
People with lung problems, such as asthma, should perform diaphragmatic breathing under medical supervision because it may initially aggravate symptoms such as labored breathing and increased fatigue. However, it is beneficial for most people in the long term.
- Your Child Is Sick. Do You Call Your Doctor or Head to the ER?
- Mental Health Care Shortage Could Play Role in U.S. Youth Suicides
- Shopping Black Friday for TVs, Furniture? Don't Forget the Tip-Over Kit
- Keeping Thanksgiving Day Kitchens Safe for the Whole Family
- All the Flavor, Better Health: Holiday Dinner Ingredient Swaps That Work
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
DiLonardo MJ. How to Deep Breathe. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/how-to-deep-breathe
Moorings Park. What is Diaphragmatic Breathing, and How Can it Benefit Seniors? https://www.mooringspark.org/news/what-is-diaphragmatic-breathing-and-how-can-it-benefit-seniors
Office of the University Physician. Belly Breathing for Better Health. https://health4u.msu.edu/articles/2018-belly-breathing-for-better-health
Top What Does Diaphragmatic Breathing Do Related Articles
How Can I Lower My Blood Pressure Immediately, Naturally? ChartCan you lower your high blood pressure immediately? Explore 9 ways such as exercise, healthy eating, rest, and more that can help protect your arteries from blood pressure changes as you age. See chart and learn to manage and control hypertension the healthy and natural way.
How Can I Cure Insomnia Fast? 15 Tips and TechniquesInsomnia is the medical term for the inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep not just for one night but from several days to months. Nearly 35 out of every 100 people suffer from insomnia.
How to Lower Blood Pressure: Exercise TipsTrying to lower high blood pressure (hypertension)? Discover exercises good for lowering blood pressure, along with other lifestyle changes and medications to prevent high blood pressure.
Stress Management TechniquesStress may be considered as any physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental unrest and that may be a factor in disease causation. Managing stress in our lives is important. Elimination of stress is unrealistic, since stress is a part of normal life. We can however, learn to manage stress through techniques such as exercise, relaxation, meditation, time management, and support systems so that we have control over our stress and its effects on our physical and mental health.
10 Ways to Lower Blood Pressure Without MedicationLifestyle changes are effective in controlling high blood pressure.
What Is a Diaphragm Pacing System?Diaphragm pacing system (DPS) is a treatment option for patients who cannot breathe on their own and mostly are dependent on a ventilator.
What Is a Good Way to Relax?It is important to manage stress to live a healthy and happy life. Stress can cause and/or trigger various diseases or worsen existing health problems. Taking time out every day to find ways to relax is an important way to prevent getting stressed, improving mood, and living a happy and healthy life.