Don't Stop BreathingPhoto byHarry Fabel on Pixabay

Something as natural and simple as controlling your breathing can help reduce stress, anxiety, and even body weight.

James Gordon says Americans have become a nation of 'shallow breathers'. In May, 2000, he pointed out that:

"...few people in Western, industrialized society know how to breathe correctly. Taught to suck in our guts and puff out our chests, we're bombarded with a constant barrage of stress, which causes muscles to tense and respiration rate to increase. As a result, we've become a nation of shallow `chest breathers,` who primarily use the middle and upper portions of the lungs. Few people -- other than musicians, singers and some athletes -- are even aware that the abdomen should expand during inhalation to provide the optimum amount of oxygen needed to nourish all the cells in the body."

Breathing properly must be learned and practiced daily. Most adults are not aware that they've developed breathing habits that are bad for their physical and mental health. Doctors and other medical providers as a general rule don't recommend breathing exercises at all. They may tell you to take a vacation, go on a diet or try to get better sleep, but this advice is often pretty vague.

The Scientific American asks why controlled breathing is not recommended and practiced more widely. Their conclusion:

Perhaps it is perceived as too simple, commonplace and obvious to be a remedy. Faced with the complexity of negotiating the ups and downs of human life, many people may assume that simple solutions cannot be effective.

Medical studies show there is a link between breathing exercises and weight loss

Healthline's medically-reviewed article discusses several types of breathing that have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve attention levels as well as sleep quality. Interestingly, studies on breathing exercises have also been found to help with weight loss and a decrease in body fat:

Several studies have found that practicing breathing exercises may promote weight loss and decrease body fat.

What’s more, participants with obesity who repeated the exercise regularly for 1 month experienced a significant reduction in body fat (6).

In another small study in 38 people, those who participated in a diaphragmatic breathing exercise experienced a higher resting metabolic rate, which may lead to increased weight loss (7).

Additionally, an 8-week study showed that practicing breathing exercises for 45 minutes daily 3 times per week significantly reduced body weight and body mass index (BMI), compared with a control group (8).

Winter, with its cold weather, is a great time to work on exercises that can be done easily and safely in the comfort of your own home. Add breathing exercises to your daily routine and experience the many health rewards of learning to breathe to reduce stress, anxiety and weight.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational and informational purposes only.

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