We know so much about exercise and nutrition these days. We know what type of exercise we should be performing, how frequently and to what intensity. We also know what we should eat; how much, what food types and what to avoid for optimum health.
Most of us have an understanding of the basics, but what are the other simple and effective tips we can implement into our everyday life?
Daylighting has been associated with improved mood, enhanced morale, less fatigue, and reduced eyestrain (Robbins, 1986). Many studies show that the performance and productivity of workers in office, industrial, and retail environments can increase with the quality of light.
According to Future Workplace’s survey, over 1,600 employees ranked “access to natural light and views of the outdoors” as their number one desire for a workplace environment.
Boosts vitamin D
When exposed to sunlight, the skin absorbs vitamin D, a critical nutrient that prevents bone loss and reduces the risk of heart disease, weight gain, and various cancers. The so-called “sunshine vitamin” also doesn’t discriminate based on whether you get your sunlight indoors or out. Meaning: increasing your natural light where you spend the most time, be it home or the workplace, is equally important.
Wards off seasonal depression
For many people, autumn is a giddy time of crunchy leaves and all things pumpkin spice. Getting as much natural light as possible can help keep these mood changes at bay. For about 6 percent of the population, fall kicks off a time of serious depression known as seasonal affective disorder (aka major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns). Another 14 percent experience the less debilitating (but still significant) “winter blues.”
Since mental health and sleep often go hand in hand, it’s not surprising that natural light affects both. A small 2014 study of office workers revealed that the more natural light exposure they received, the better sleep they experienced.
Reduces health risks of fluorescent lighting
The more time you spend in a source of natural light, the less time you’ll likely spend in the unnatural light of fluorescent bulbs. Though compact fluorescent lamps are generally recognized as safe, for some people, exposure to fluorescent light appears to elicit an elevated stress response. With CFLs (compact florescent light bulbs) as your main light source day in and day out, this could increase your risk for migraines and eye strain.
What to do?
Get out when you can
Break free of your four walls by taking your lunch break outside, squeezing in a morning walk before work, or winding down on your patio at the end of the day.
Exercise outdoors, or by the window at your gym
For a double whammy for your health, pair time outdoors with physical activity. Exercise is known to improve mood, and recent research actually links it with increased vitamin D.
Supplement your D
Worldwide, it’s estimated that 1 billion people are deficient in this important nutrient — even in sunny parts of the country. Talk to your doctor if you suspect your levels have dipped below optimal, and ask if supplementation might be right for you.
Try a light therapy lamp
Light therapy has a proven track record for treating the symptoms that accompany seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Some reports state it’s at least as effective as antidepressants for alleviating SAD. Extra-bright light therapy lamps are readily available at a variety of sizes and price points.
Imagine yourself exercising: running, hiking, dancing, lifting weights — whatever you like to do. Picture yourself pushing to a maximum intensity. Now, ask yourself: Are you breathing out of your nose or mouth?
If you are like most exercisers, you breathe through your mouth, especially as the intensity of the exercise mounts. But experts are learning that breathing through the mouth may not be as efficient or effective as breathing through the nose.
The nose is built with a specific purpose: to support our respiratory system (the primary purpose of the mouth, on the other hand, is to start the digestive process). The nostrils, hair and nasal passageways are designed to assist in filtering allergens and foreign bodies from entering the lungs. The nose also adds moisture and warmth to inhaled air for smoother entry to the lungs.
Nasal breathing, as opposed to mouth breathing, has another important advantage, especially for effective and efficient exercise: It can allow for more oxygen to get to active tissues. That is because breathing through the nose releases nitric oxide, which is necessary to increase carbon dioxide (CO2) in the blood, which, in turn, is what releases oxygen. Mouth breathing does not effectively release nitric oxide, which means the cells are not getting as much oxygen as through nasal breathing, which could lead to fatigue and stress.
A recent study demonstrated this. The study tested 10 runners, both male and female, who for six months had been utilizing nasal-only breathing while exercising. Participants were put through standardized testing, once with nasal breathing and then with mouth breathing, to compare their maximum oxygen intake rates. They were also tested for various other respiratory and exercise markers, including oxygen and carbon dioxide levels while exercising.
Their maximum rate of oxygen consumption did not change from nasal to mouth breathing. But the study found that the runners’ respiratory rate, breaths per minute, and ratio of oxygen intake to carbon dioxide output decreased during nasal breathing. The researchers said this is probably because of the lower breath rate used during nasal breathing, which allows more time for oxygen to get to the bloodstream.
Hyperventilation through the mouth, i.e. the quick and hard breaths through the mouth that so many of us take when exercising at high intensity or feeling stressed, causes the body to offload more CO2, making it harder to oxygenate our cells. In intense moments, nasal breathing is the ideal way to oxygenate our systems.
Nasal breathing also activates the part of the nervous system that supports rest, recovery and digestion, rather than the part of the nervous system that is responsible for survival or stress states, such as flight or freeze. That means that, even if the body is in a stressful state of high-intensity exercise, nasal breathing can provide a sense of calm and allow us to function better.
“The fact is, it’s incredibly difficult to learn or process anything in survival mode,” says Brian Mackenzie, author, athlete and founder of the Art of Breath, a program that teaches how to use breathing to optimize athletic performance. “We are now understanding some of the deeper layers to managing stress, which has direct impact on not only the general population, but is at the heart of how elite performers can optimize performance.”
So, if nasal breathing helps us stay relaxed and improves our athletic performance, how can we do more of it?
First, pay attention. Do you more often breathe through your nose or mouth during the day?
What about while exercising, especially as the workouts get more difficult? Notice what is happening with the breath as well as what it feels like to pay attention to the breath.
Now consider practicing nasal breathing. Close the mouth and relax the tongue and jaw. Start by simply nasal breathing during warm-ups and cool downs with workouts. Then try experiencing daily life while breathing through the nose. Some people who mouth breathe during sleep try “mouth taping,” putting specially designed tape over their lips to assist with nasal breathing.
Once you have your groove and are consistently nasal breathing, check for potential differences in these areas.
- Emotional state — Nasal breathing should lead to a more relaxed state. (When life is stressful, and you note that you are mouth breathing, try switching to nasal breathing and inhaling slowly and deeply.)
- Exercise performance — At first, high-intensity exercise may feel more difficult with nasal breathing. The body needs to adapt to a different approach to the respiratory process, and if it is used to hyperventilation during exercise, nasal breathing may feel a bit slow at first. Things will shift. Be patient.
- Exercise recovery — Because nasal breathing is more efficient, recovery should be smoother.
- Immune system — Nasal breathing is a major line of defense against airborne pathogens. The mouth has no defense system. You may experience improvements with overall breathing and decreasing allergies or colds.
Mackenzie said he believes nasal breathing can profoundly improve our awareness, and acknowledges how good it feels both mentally and physically. “To desire a mind that remains curious and can see the beauty in any experience is true freedom. Our breath is the direct link to a calm, clear mind and body.”
This article was taken from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/when-it-comes-to-breathing-during-exercise-youre-probably-doing-it-wrong/2019/01/23/b4d3c338-1e59-11e9-8b59-0a28f2191131_story.html