Breathing is essential to life.  God breathed life into Adam and he was perfect.  We are born and take our first breath of air and continue to breathe throughout our lives.  When the time comes for us to leave this Earth, we will take our last breath.

Most people do not think about breathing because it is an automatic function, but we should think about it.  Try taking a deep breath, count to 5 on your inhale and 5 on your exhale.  Can you do it?  Try an 8 count inhale and exhale.  Can you do that?  Keep going, add 2-3 counts each time, see how high you can go.  My guess is many will struggle with the 5 count.  What does this tell you?  Most people take shallow breaths because we live in a high stress society.  Do you have tension in your neck and upper traps?  If I told you your level of stress could be decreased just by breathing deeper, longer, breaths, would you believe me.  My guess, is probably.  We all know breathing is important so why don’t we think about it?  We’re thinking about more ‘important’ things, like work, school, sports, finances, and the people that make us mad.  But breathing is more important than all of those things.

I challenge you to make an effort, for one day, to think about your breathing.  Not just when you are sitting or laying, but the entire day.  Try to give each breath a minimum 5 count inhale and exhale.  Notice if you feel different at the end of the day.  Is your mind foggy?  Are you tired after lunch?  Are your shoulders and neck more relaxed?  Are you grumpy?  What’s your stress level like?

It is important to think about your breathing from time to time.  Especially, if you have had a stressful incident at home or work, take a minute to breathe.  It will bring clarity to the situation and allow your mind to function normally, not as a fight or flight response.  Connecting our breath to our mind and body, will help bring oxygen to your brain and organs.  Exercising will become more efficient by using your breath to help you through those last few moments in your cardio routine or completing the last last few reps.  Find your breath and notice the difference.  Not to mention, it’s not safe to hold your breath at any time.

Think about how you breathe and try to take deeper breaths.  Retrain yourself to use the correct PRIMARY respiratory muscles and leave the secondary respiratory muscles (shoulder and neck muscles) for running, not stress.  Learning to recruit respiratory muscles correctly will make you more efficient in everything you do.  Let me know how well you do with your breathing challenge.  May your breath be with you!