Belly breathing is also known as deep breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing and paced respiration. Belly breathing involves fully engaging the stomach, abdominal muscles and diaphragm when breathing. This means actively pulling the diaphragm down with each inward breath. In this way, diaphragmatic breathing helps the lungs fill more efficiently. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises
A good way to practice belly breathing is to sit in a chair and slightly lean back, make sure you comfortable. You can place both hands on your stomach so you can see better when your belly rises. You can also place an object on your stomach to see it move. Make sure you see the object moving up when you breath in.
If you are feeling breathless, anxious, completing exercises or daily tasks, remember to take a moment and try out belly breathing. As well, try practicing belly breathing daily. You can perform this technique 3 or 4 times a day for 5 – 10 minutes each. Greater clinical benefits such as improved abdominal motion and diaphragmatic mobility may develop with long-term belly breathing (Yamaguti et al. 2012; Morrow et al. 2016). At first this exercise may be challenging, so start slow and do what you can. Over time, you will build the muscles that are used in breathing and feel less short of breath.
Belly breathing aims to reduce breathlessness (or dyspnea) by increasing the activity of the diaphragm and simultaneously reducing the work of the accessory respiratory muscles (Cahalin et al. 2002; Fernandes, Cukier & Feltrim 2011; Yamaguti et al. 2012; Morrow et al. 2016). An overweight BMI (>25) is likely to be associated with greater abdominal body fat, creating a larger resistance that the diaphragm must work against. In contrast, an underweight BMI (<18.5) may be associated with lower diaphragm muscle mass. Thus, greater work is required by the diaphragm to perform belly breathing. Normal BMI classification (18.5-24.9) responds the best to belly breathing (Morrow et al. 2016).
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