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  • Aspasia Venieri

The Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

by Aspasia Venieri


woman breathing

The Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing


During the day, when we are stressed, we take short and shallow breaths. This way of breathing does not bring the required amount of oxygen to the brain and tightens the muscles in the back of our neck. Focusing for less than 10 minutes on diaphragmatic breathing we take care of ourselves in the following ways:



  • The brain as well as the blood which nourishes our working muscles are better oxygenated; this helps us to think more clearly, have a more rejuvenated body, and feel less fatigued

  • Attention improves

  • The symptoms of neck pain decrease

  • Stress and anxiety decrease reducing cortisol secretion (stress hormone) which weakens our immune system

  • The parasympathetic nervous system is triggered leading to relaxation

  • The up-and-down movements of the diaphragm relax the tight organs in the abdomen

  • We produce more testosterone (the action hormone)

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome decrease

  • The heartbeats, blood pressure, and the breath rate decrease

  • The reflux symptoms decrease

  • The quality of life of people with asthma increases

  • The quality of sleep improves


Diaphragmatic breathing is a very simple technique of relaxation that helps us find our balance and focus on ourselves in the here and now. We sit or lie down comfortably with our head aligned with our torso and our waist well supported. We place our palms left and right on side of our belly and we inhale deeply and slowly through the nose for 5 ”. With our palms we check that the air reaches our abdomen which is inflated and does not stay high on our chest. Then we hold our breath for another 5" before we exhale slowly for 5", this time through the mouth. The whole process of diaphragmatic breathing lasts 15”. If we take 30 diaphragmatic breaths, in 10 minutes we will be able to enjoy the above benefits. It costs nothing and we can apply this technique as many times as we want, wherever we are, any time of the day we need it. Experimental academic studies show that a daily practice of a deep relaxation technique, like diaphragmatic breathing, for 10-15 minutes, benefits our cognitive functioning, our physical and mental health.


Bibliography

Ahmadi, M., Amiri, M., Rezaeian, T., Abdollahi, I., Rezadoost, A. M., Sohrabi, M., & Bakhshi, E. (2021). Different Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Diaphragmatic Breathing on Lower Esophageal Sphincter Pressure and Quality of Life in Patients with Reflux: A Comparative Study. Middle East Journal of Digestive Diseases, 13(1), 61–66. https://doi.org/10.34172/mejdd.2021.205

Chen, Y., Huang, X., Chien, C., & Cheng, J. (2017). The Effectiveness of Diaphragmatic Breathing Relaxation Training for Reducing Anxiety. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 53(4), 329–336. https://doi.org/10.1111/ppc.12184

Liu, Y., Jiang, T.-T., Shi, T.-Y., Liu, Y.-N., Liu, X.-M., Xu, G.-J., Li, F.-L., Wang, Y.-L., & Wu, X.-Y. (2021). The effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing relaxation training for improving sleep quality among nursing staff during the COVID-19 outbreak: a before and after study. Sleep Medicine, 78, 8–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2020.12.003

Ma, X., Yue, Z.-Q., Gong, Z.-Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N.-Y., Shi, Y.-T., Wei, G.-X., & Li, Y.-F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 874. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874

Metikaridis, D. T., Hadjipavlou, A., Artemiadis, A., Chrousos, G. P., & Darviri, C. (2017). Effect of a stress management program on subjects with neck pain: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Back & Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, 30(1), 23–33. https://doi.org/10.3233/BMR-160709

Peper, E., Mason, L., & Huey, C. (2017). Healing Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diaphragmatic Breathing. Biofeedback, 45(4), 83–87. https://doi.org/10.5298/1081-5937-45.4.04

Prem, V., Sahoo, R. C., & Adhikari, P. (2013). Effect of diaphragmatic breathing exercise on quality of life in subjects with asthma: A systematic review. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 29(4), 271–277. https://doi.org/10.3109/09593985.2012.731626

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