However, few people use their lungs to their full capacity. It has been reported that at rest, people use just 10%-15% of their actual lung capacity, usually a result of quick, shallow breaths that make the chest rise and fall.
When we exercise, however, working muscles demand greater amounts of oxygen and you release more carbon dioxide as a result. This results in an automatic increase in your respiration rate. Becoming more aware of your breathing can help you feel more comfortable, prevent complications, and get more out of your workouts.
To breathe properly, you need to use your diaphragm, the large sheet-like muscle that lies at the bottom of the chest cavity. To find your diaphragm, sit comfortably or lie on your back on the floor. Place your left hand on your upper chest and your right hand on your abdomen, in the ‘gap’ of your rib cage. When you breathe in and out, your left hand should remain still and only your right hand should move up and down. If your left hand is moving, you are breathing is too shallow and you are not using your diaphragm as well as you should.
When you are at rest, try to alter your breathing so only your right hand moves as you do so. ‘One in-breath and one out-breath are one cycle. Try to slow your breathing down to eight to ten cycles per minute without breathing from your upper chest area. Aim to breathe slowly and smoothly from your diaphragm.
Try doing this activity for even five minutes and take note of how you feel when you get up. You may feel light headed (so much oxygen getting to the brain), so take it easy, but you should feel clear, focused and revitalised. Once you get the hang of it, start introducing this deeper but controlled way of breathing into your exercise – it really help during the workout and for the recovery afterwards.