Breathe to Heal

There has been much in the press recently about buying muscle training devices to improve breathing, but we think that the jury is out on this one.

Some Facts:

Dysfunctional breathing: Anyone with difficulties associated with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and asthma, should be under the care and control of their own GP, but it is with stress that we think that this simple breathing exercise has most to offer. Everyone has stress these days, it seems; be it as a mother, or a worker in a factory or office, or even as a pensioner just getting on with daily trials and chores. It affects many of us – and it is sad that there are those of us who cannot cope with simple things. Having to phone a mobile phone company or an office or business where it takes forever for someone to answer a telephone can be hugely irritating, if you let it get under your skin. Simple things that can drive some of us mad. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What does irregular breathing do to us?  If we are stressed and are breathing irregularly, this affects our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (sympathetic – our fight or flight mode – it sends extra hormones boosting our alertness and heart rate: parasympathetic – controlling our involuntary actions such as sexual arousal, urination, digesting our food and such things). Both of these form part of the autonomic nervous system that regulates blood pressure and the rate of breathing, so if we are stressed, the whole system is stressed.

Health breathing benefits: In a recent edition of the Journal of the American Heart Association, Daniel Craighead an assistant research professor at the University of Colorado, wrote about the results of his study that examined 36 middle aged and older people who had raised blood pressure. He asked them to complete a high intensity form of breathing through a hand-held breathing trainer 30 times a day, six days a week. By the end of a six-week trial, the top number in blood pressure reading (the force at which your heart pumps blood around the body) reduced by nine points – the kind of result that you may find by taking a 30-minute daily walk or medication prescribed by a doctor. 36 people is a very small study, but it gives an indicator of what can be achieved by a simple breathing exercise – and the results of the lowered blood pressure appeared to be long lasting. The machine that they used was similar to the NHS approved Power Breath that costs about £30.

What do the experts say: Dr Stephen Preece, the director of the Centre for Health Sciences Research at the University of Salford, says that the initial standard treatment for anyone with dysfunctional breathing is to get them to lie on a bed and breathe deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this for a while and until you are comfortable. Then place the right hand on the abdomen, just below the rib cage and the left hand on the chest and continue to breathe in and out. You should focus on filling the abdomen with air, and as you do, you should feel it rise and fall – and you should become calm.

Our opinion: We haven’t tried a breathing machine, but every one of us in the SkinLikes team have a daily routine that involves a time that we put aside to lie down, or sit comfortably in a chair and with eyes closed, we will quietly get ourselves into a breathing routine for ten minutes or more. This is especially beneficial at night time, when we find that it helps us fall asleep easily. By focussing on the breaths and repeating a simple mantra – we sleep better as a result. Whether or not this reduces our blood pressure, we haven’t tested. But what we do know is that we are a cool team in this office. Nobody loses the plot or raises a voice. We are all calm and focussed on what we do best. We are nice to each other and we do our very best for our customers. In a way, we are breathing ourselves with health – and it costs us nothing.

Our advice: If you have a computer then you can listen to some of the guru’s on YouTube who talk about the many benefits of having a regular breathing routine, such as Joe DiStefano or Max Strom Some suggest breathing in for four seconds, hold for  seven and breathe out for eight, and others have their own ideas, but we think that its best just to breathe in as deeply as you can and then hold it for as long as is comfortable and breathe out as deeply as you can. Then leave it to your body to tell you when to breathe in again, and all without putting any stress on the system by having to think about what you are doing. In your mantra, say something like “I am thinking of nothing” as you breathe in and “I am still thinking of nothing” as you breathe out. This might make you chuckle, but it has its own benefits by being a form of meditation.

If you don’t have a computer and would like more information on the subject then call 0800 023 6252 and we will be pleased to help.

Kind regards and best wishes from the team at SkinLikes.