Don’t Neglect This Part of Your Workout

You might have your workout regime down pat but if you’re not placing as much importance on your post-workout breathing as your session, then you could be putting your recovery at risk.

Setting aside a few minutes at the end of your workout regime for some gentle breathing isn’t just a neat way to round it off, it’s actually an essential part of your recovery and will not only help build strength but boost your next-day performance too. 

Any kind of workout, whether it’s weights, cardio or boxing, causes a stress on the body and on the nervous system. When we exercise, the sympathetic nervous system or ‘flight or fight’ response is activated. As a result, our heart beats faster to bring more oxygen to our muscles , our blood pressure increases, and we begin to breathe faster.

In the same way that being continually being stressed at work is unhealthy, spending too much time in this heightened, high-alert state post-workout can be detrimental, so it’s important to return to a more balanced state as soon as we’re able. Which is where deep breathing comes in. Deep, slow focused breathing at the end of the work out is a great way to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the ‘rest and digest’ phase. Slowing your breathing down intentionally is a great way to do this as it tells your body that it’s time to calm down and begin to recover. Perhaps most important of all, activating the PNS prepares us for a better, more restorative night’s sleep, which is one of the most crucial elements when it comes to optimal health and wellbeing. 

Try this basic breathing technique:

The basic rule of thumb when it comes to effective breathwork is to breathe in and out through your nose and to use a one-to-two ratio.  

If you’re a beginner start by breathing in for a count of two and out for a count of four, while seasoned breathers can try breathing in for a count of four an out for a count of eight.  

Eventually you may be able to extend that to, in for a count of five and out for a count of ten.