Health & Fitness: Learning to control breath important for working out

Published 2:30 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2021

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Health & Fitness by Brittni Lair

Brittni Lair is a physician assistant in orthopedics in Albert Lea. She owns CrossFit InnerDrive. She enjoys spending time outside and with her friends and family.

Inhale and exhale are two words most people do not think twice about. Prior to the current COVID pandemic we, many of us took breathing for granted. We likely did not put much thought into our breathing each day. Now, we are expected to be in a mask a majority of the day and even do strenuous activity such as working out in that mask. It is hard enough to be motivated to workout, but when you are forced to do it with a mask on, it is even more challenging. Working out in a mask is a learned behavior that people can get used to with a little bit of practice. Being more aware of your breathing may encourage you to practice some deep-breathing exercises, which can be extremely beneficial for many reasons.

Brittni Lair

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Working out with a mask is not an easy task for most people, especially the first few times you wear it. Some people may feel as though a mask isn’t safe to workout in, but there have been studies released showing it is not dangerous. Obviously, if you have chronic lung conditions or any other pre-existing condition then that is a different story. If a person develops lightheadedness, shortness of breath or dizziness while working out, then taking a break would be a wise decision. Learning how to exercise in the mask is key. Whether that is how to control your breathing or how to change your workouts to allow for rest, these are important things. A few key points are taking more breaks, controlling your heart rate, controlling your breathing and understanding that your intensity may be lower than “normal.”

Learning how to properly breathe is important no matter the fitness level. Deep breathing exercises are important too to aid in recovery. Inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds is a great exercise to control your breathing. This will in turn lower your heart rate and put you in a more relaxed state. Whether it is at the end of the day and you use this tool to slow down and decompress, or if you use it throughout the day, it can be beneficial either way. Challenge yourself to focus on your breathing for a day both during your workout and at home. See if you can work on controlling your breath and using it both to get a better workout and to relax. You will be pleasantly surprised at how beneficial it can be!