By Dr. Jeff Leiter

This is the final article on breathing and completes the 3-part series. Previously we have discussed the importance and advantages of diaphragmatic (horizontal) breathing and nasal breathing. In this final edition, we will describe the advantages of focusing on your breath during certain exercises, between shifts and drills, or during times of intense stress.

Unfortunately, for most of us, the responsibilities of work life and the technological boom have contributed to an environment that requires us to be sedentary. Sitting for prolonged periods of time and staring at a computer or phone screen causes us to sit in a position where our diaphragm is pushed up into our abdomen, our shoulders roll forward and our backs become slouched. It probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but when you consider we rarely breath when typing on a computer or answering a text, it’s no surprise our energy levels are low at the end of the day. Interestingly, the size of the screen we are looking at predicts the size of our breath. Hunched over and looking at the small screen on your phone? Chances are, you are not breathing, and if you are, you are taking very short breaths that do little to transport oxygen to your brain and body. Next time you are scrolling on your phone, or typing on a computer, check to see if you are even breathing. Often, we hold our breath until we finish our task which compounds over the day to make us feel sluggish and fatigued.

There is no doubt that it’s beneficial to get up and walk around every hour if you are sitting for prolonged periods of time. Moving promotes blood flow to your body and brain and can restore normal breathing patterns. However, you don’t have to wait until you get on your feet to focus on your breath. Sit with your butt at the front of your seat, pull your shoulders back, sit up straight and take 10 slow nasal breaths. This will not only relax you, but it will also give you a boost of energy.

Sitting isn’t the only time we restrict our breathing or hold our breath. Think of the last time you did a wall sit or a plank. It’s common when we are bracing our core during an isometric exercise to hold our breath. We not only hold our breath, but we also focus on the parts of our body that are in the greatest discomfort. By focusing on the pain in our body, we often make the exercise feel more uncomfortable that it is. Don’t believe me? Follow our Pro tips.

Scott Taylor | Game On Magazine