Ah, to deep breathing is truly a wonderful thing. At its simplest, it clears your head and relaxes you beautifully. If you’d like to decrease your anxiety and stress levels, improve your cognitive achievements, enhance your memory, improve your mood, and increase your blood oxygenation, then you better learn how to practice breathe deeply now!
In fact, a research study just published illustrated how primary school children’s anxiety levels were reduced, and test performance increased, by simply practicing deep breathing before their school test (Khng, KH 2017).
Another recently published research study (Perciavalle et al 2017), found that adults practicing deep breathing induced an effective improvement in their mood and stress levels. This was measured using both self-reported subjective evaluations and objective parameters such as heart rate and salivary cortisol levels.
Practicing your deep breaths is even more effective if you do it standing up! A group of researchers measured the blood oxygenation level, heart rate, subjective breathing ability, blood pressure and pain of patients who had cardiac surgery performed a couple of days prior (Pettersson et al 2015). This randomised control study illustrated that the group of patients who practiced the deep breathing standing up, had significantly improved blood oxygenation levels when compared with the sitting group. This was also the case after resting for 15 minutes after the deep breathing.
Still haven’t convinced you? Well, yet another study, published in Scientific Reports has shown that deep breathing enhances complex cognitive functions such as memory, in particular the retention of motor memories ( Yadav & Mutha 2016). After the experimental group practiced deep breathing for 30 minutes, they retained a motor skill ‘strikingly’ better than the controls whom simply rested for 30 minutes. This was true immediately after the breathing, and also 24 hours later. The experiment was repeated and it was found that there was significantly improved retention after 24 hours.
An Iranian research study (Haghani & Shariatpanahi 2011) examined medical students who were either given the task of deep breathing and stretching during their genetics class, or not. There was a significant difference between the two groups. The stretchers and deep breathers had significantly increased test achievement scores. The researchers highly recommended all classes and educational workshops include deep breathing and stretching.
I recommend doing at least 30 minutes of deep breathing daily. And since I love to SMILE and find any excuse to do it, I recommend you smile on the exhale for even MORE health benefits. Get yourself a little alarm app on your phone and set a subtle alarm for every 30 minutes. When you hear that little ‘blip blip’ go off, take 4 big deep breaths and smile on each exhalation. Ahhhhh, how can you not be in a good mood after that?
I highly recommend you read Dr. Wilson’s article Breathing Properly for Health for instructions on how to learn to breathe deeply and properly. You won’t regret it.
Tell me your thoughts regarding Deep Breathing in the box below, and please ask me any questions you may have!
Breathe deeply, and heal happily!
Haghani, F, & Shariatpanahi, k 2011, ‘Influence of Stretching and Deep Breathing Exercises on Test Achievement Scores of Medical Students in Isfahan Medical University, Iran’, Iranian Journal of Medical Education, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 1-8.
Khng, KH 2017, ‘A better state-of-mind: deep breathing reduces state anxiety and enhances test performance through regulating test cognitions in children’, Cognition & Emotion, vol. 31, no. 7, pp. 1502-1510. Available from: 10.1080/02699931.2016.1233095. [29 November 2017].
Perciavalle, V, Blandini, M, Fecarotta, P, Buscemi, A, Corrado, D, Bertolo, L, Fichera, F, Coco, M, & Di Corrado, D 2017, ‘The role of deep breathing on stress’, Neurological Sciences, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 451-458. Available from: 10.1007/s10072-016-2790-8. [29 November 2017].
Pettersson, H, Faager, G, & Westerdahl, E 2015, ‘Improved oxygenation during standing performance of deep breathing exercises with positive expiratory pressure after cardiac surgery: A randomized controlled trial’, Journal Of Rehabilitation Medicine, vol. 47, no. 8, pp. 748-752. Available from: 10.2340/16501977-1992. [29 November 2017].
Yadav, G, & Mutha, PK 2016, ‘Deep Breathing Practice Facilitates Retention of Newly Learned Motor Skills’, Scientific Reports, vol. 6, p. 37069. Available from: 10.1038/srep37069. [29 November 2017].