How exercise affects the respiratory system?
Did you know that the way you breathe during exercise can limit your performance? If your breathing isn’t proper, it can cause shortness of breath and an increased risk of injury. Learning how to breathe correctly not only gives you more energy but may also improve your ability to exercise longer before tiring out.
The primary muscle used for respiration (breathing) is the diaphragm, a sheet of muscle located just below the lungs. Its main job is to contract and relax as it moves downward during inhalation (inhaling air into the lungs), pulling air into the lungs, and then relaxes upward during exhalation (exhaling air from the lungs), forcing air out of the lungs.
The diaphragm is aided by the intercostal muscles between ribs, which contract when you breathe in or exhale to make your chest expand and allow more air into your lungs.
Then there are skeletal muscles that aid in living with different movements of the ribs for deeper inhalation and forceful exhalation.
As you exercise, oxygen intake increases because of the demands being placed on your body. Because these muscles are working harder, they need more energy to do their job. This extra energy comes from an increased percentage of burned carbohydrates rather than stored carbohydrates (glycogen).
To meet the demand for additional power during exercise, glycogen is broken down into glucose molecules to be used by exercising muscles as part of the glycolysis process.
Exercise causes a rise in your breathing and heart rate, which also causes your blood pressure to go up as more oxygen is needed.
For this to occur, pressure on your chest increases so that less air can escape from your lungs with each breath you take. This is called “thoracic restriction,” It restricts how effectively you can breathe during exercise.
As exercise intensity increases, greater demands are placed on the respiratory muscles, making them work harder on inspiration (inhale) and expiration (exhale). At some point, they can’t keep up, and the powers that aid in breathing become fatigued.
When this happens, thoracic restriction becomes even worse, and you can’t take as deep a breath to meet the demands your body is experiencing.
As stated above, when you exercise, your respiratory system attempts to compensate by taking deeper breaths and getting as much oxygen as possible into the lungs.
However, as intensity increases beyond what you’re accustomed to or if it’s just been a while since you exercised, these compensation mechanisms fail, and your performance may suffer. You might feel out of breath or experience severe shortness of breath which causes an increased risk of injury because you cannot find a rhythm for effective movement due to lack of oxygen.
This means it’s important to train at various exertion levels to build up your respiratory muscles and ultimately process oxygen more effectively.
To train your respiratory system, consider the following tips:
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– Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth at all times, with a particular focus on exhaling completely. This will help you utilize all the accessory muscles instead of the diaphragm when breathing.
For instance, exhale your abdominal muscles by drawing them towards your spine while moving air out.
– Practice smooth, controlled breathing with equal time for both inhalation and exhalation during rest periods or proper warm-up/ cool-down activities such as jogging in place, marching in place, jumping rope, etc.
– As you catch your breath between sets of exercises, focus on taking deep abdominal breaths and filling your lungs with as much air as possible to recover.
– When you’re exercising, concentrate only on the breathing aspect and breathe in and out through pursed lips until you feel recovered enough to continue.
This will help strengthen your respiratory muscles and teach you control over your breath which aids overall performance during exercise.
– Focus on having excellent mental concentration when training because it allows you to maintain proper form for each activity and helps prevent “forgetting” how important it is to keep up good breathing habits. Remember that correct breathing can reduce sports-related injuries such as muscle pulls or tears (side stitch), delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and stress fractures.
As always, make sure you warm-up and cool down before and after any physical activity to reduce your risk of injury and maximize performance.
Injury Prevention And Prehabilitation Tips to Help you Stay Healthy and Get Fit!
If you have had a history of injuries, are looking for ways to prevent future injuries, or already have an injury and want to heal as quickly as possible, consider utilizing these easy-to-follow tips and tricks, which will help you do just that! Whether you are a runner, weightlifter, cyclist, professional athlete, or weekend warrior, these easy-to-follow tips and tricks will help you perform at the highest level possible.