3 Breathing Exercises To Decrease Stress & Boost Recovery

3 Breathing Exercises To Decrease Stress & Boost Recovery

The relationship an athlete has with their breath can have an influence on their performance, but also stress levels and recovery.

You may have come across advice about focusing on breath while exercising, particularly trying to keep it relaxed or in rhythm, to get the most out of yourself when doing sports like lifting, running, swimming or cycling.

Now, there is becoming more of an interest in the importance of the way we breathe in general throughout the day.

Proper breathing is linked with lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol because deep breathing causes the nervous system to lower your heart rate and blood pressure.

This instils a sense of calm that enhances the recovery process, as well as overall feelings of wellbeing.

There are some simple breathing exercises you can do to benefit from this stress reduction so you recover quicker. Here, Built for Athletes takes a look at three of them.

3-4-5 Breathing

This exercise helps reduce stress by increasing your focus and giving your mind a break from any intrusive thoughts.

You simply take a big deep breath in through your nose for three seconds. Hold it for four seconds. Then slowly exhale for five seconds, letting any tension go along with it.

Alternate-Nostril Breathing

Alternate-nostril breathing is pretty strange to begin with and it’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

But some people find it works really well for them. It comes from an old eastern practice called nadi shodhana pranayama, which in English means subtle energy clearing breathing technique.

You sit with your right hand in front of your face, then block your right nostril with your thumb. Empty your lungs through your left nostril and breathe in for a count of four through the same nostril.

Then use your fourth finger to block your left nostril and exhale fully through your right nostril, before inhaling again for four seconds.

Switch fingers again to block your left nostril and repeat the cycle.

You can either do it for time or for a set number of cycles.

Box Breathing

Box breathing is very simple, and can be done easily wherever you are.

You inhale for four seconds, hold it for four seconds and exhale for four seconds.

This is the most straightforward method of the three, so might appeal to you in particular if you’re new to breathwork.

It’s a good one to try if you’re just curious whether these kind of exercises will actually impact your stress levels. You can use measurements such as heart rate as well as how you feel generally afterwards to see if it’s had an impact or not.