Breathing exercises for weight loss
How and which breathing exercises can help you lose weight
When we’re considering how best to lose weight, more often than not our thoughts will probably be centred around what we eat, and whether we regularly take part in a movement workout. That makes sense. These are, after all, two major factors that influence our weight. Did you realise though, that even something as straightforward and natural as breathing can help us to shed the pounds and increase the fat-burning process? In fact, breathing exercises can be a great addition to your workout routine and several studies have indicated that they can help to boost the entire weight loss process.1
Lowering stress levels for weight loss
The presence of extra oxygen in the body while performing breathing exercises helps in burning the fat deposited in the body – one 8-week study showed that practicing breathing exercises 3 times each week for around 45 minutes each day could lead to a significant reduction in both body weight and body mass index (BMI).
May decrease hunger and reduce appetite
There is some evidence to suggest that those who practice breathing exercises may experience reduced feelings of hunger which, in turn, can result in a lower calories intake and the promotion of weight loss. One particularly study showed that breathing exercises that involve holding your breath for a few seconds while simultaneously contracting your stomach muscles could decrease hunger feelings on an empty stomach.2
Different types of breathing
There are a number of different types of breathing exercises that help you pay closer attention to your breathing and focus you on the present moment. These types of breathing exercises have been actively shown in studies to help reduce stress levels, which may promote weight loss and decrease body fat:3
Pursed Lips Breathing – To practice this type of breathing, inhale slowly through your nostrils and then slowly exhale through pursed lips.
Belly Breathing – Commonly known as ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ this type of breathing is done from a laying down position. Place your hands on your rib cage and upper chest and breath out through pursed lips while tightening your stomach muscles.
Skull Shining Breath – Known as ‘Kapalabhati,’ this breathing exercise consists of alternating short, explosive exhales to push air out of the lungs and slightly longer, passive inhales.
Alternate Nostril Breathing – Using your finger to close one nostril at a time, practice inhaling and exhaling through alternate nostrils.
How to get started with breathing exercises
You don’t need worry about where to find the time for this type of exercise as you can fit it in to whatever part of your day is most convenient – be it in first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or somewhere in between. What’s more, you don’t need any special equipment or clothing. All you need is a willingness to start. Find a space that is comfortable for you. This could be standing up, sitting on a chair or laying on your bed. Do what you can to minimise distractions – put your phone on silent and make sure the children and any pets are occupied. To begin with, you might only practice your choice of breathing exercise for a few minutes, but as you become more familiar and at ease with them, you can increase the time of your sessions.
Enjoying the health benefits of physical exercise
All too often we are caught in a trap of believing that if exercise doesn’t hurt, or make us sweat, there are no real benefit to it. This is simply not true! With the simple act of breathing being capable of delivering results including a reduction in stress, decreased appetite and an increase in weight loss, it’s certainly one worth giving a go.