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FDF #010: Fundamental 7 - Breathe Right

breathe right exercise fit daddy fundamentals properbreathing Feb 17, 2024

Happy Monday!

And welcome to the 7th and final issue in this Fit Daddy Fundamentals mini-series

Dry your tears and let's dive in.

Today, we're going to talk about Fit Daddy Fundamental number seven, Breathe Right.

Until I was about 30-something years old, I had no clue that I was breathing wrong.

And yes, there is a right way to breathe.

We'll get into a little bit more detail on that later.

But first, I want to cover some important steps here.

In particular, it's really important that we understand that our breath is powerful.

You may not realize it, but you can control your brain...

In fact, you can control your entire body simply with your breath.

How you breathe can affect your sleep.

How you breathe can affect your recovery.

How you breathe can affect your performance.


How Your Breath Controls Your Body

The mechanism by which your breathing controls your body is through your nervous system.

Your nervous system is made up of your central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system (nerves all over your body).

The peripheral nervous system can be further divided into the somatic (voluntary movement) and autonomic nervous systems (involuntary movement).

And the autonomic nervous system can be divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Now, the sympathetic nervous system, this is your fight or flight response. This is kicking you into high gear when there's danger.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the rest and digest part of your nervous system. This handles the activities occuring when you are relaxing.

And so they have opposite purposes, opposite functions.

One gets you ramped up.

One gets you to chill out, to wind down.

And so most people probably just breathe through their mouth and their nose randomly, and don't think too much about it.

If that's you (and it was me for so long!), then you are really missing out...


The Simple Power in Your Breath

If you're completely stressed out... know this...

You can easily activate your parasympathetic nervous system in order to calm yourself down, kick-start (in the most relaxed way) your recovery,

To do that, you're going to breathe exclusively through your nose.

That's it.

It's called nasal breathing.

Really, that's it.

And the power of your breath can be used across a wide range of circumstances.

So maybe you just are feeling stressed out while you're at work, or at home, or in traffic.

The first simple thing you can do to calm yourself down is simply close your mouth and breathe through your nose.

This you can do anywhere.

You can do it in the middle of a conversation.

You can do it in a meeting.

You can do it on the phone.

You can do it face to face with someone, especially if it's a tense moment.

It will help keep you calm. It will help destress you.

Want another exercise?


Another breathing pattern you can use is called box breathing.

If Navy Seals use this to de-stress, I'm sure it will work for you, too.

Box breathing involves the following steps:

  1. breathing in for four seconds,

  2. holding with your lungs full for four seconds,

  3. exhaling for four seconds, and

  4. holding with your lungs empty for four seconds,

Repeat that box like structure for two to three minutes and this will activate your parasympathetic nervous system.

You will calm down.

We're only going to cover those two techniques in detail here.

But there are so many additional breathing techniques that you can use to activate your parasympathetic nervous system so it can do it's thing (i.e. most of the time, put you in a much healthier state).

Another breathing technique uses a 4-7-8 pattern that is said to calm you and even induce sleep.

There are even more extreme techniques (not for use in the middle of a tense meeting) like Wim Hof breathing. This method involves a pattern of rapid inhales and exhales, combined with long breath holes.

The breathing techniques taught by Wim Hof can even affect your body's immune response!


One Specific Takeaway

Now that you know how much of a difference your breath can make...

If you sleep with your mouth open and breathe through your mouth, this significantly affects the quality of your sleep.

By simply forcing yourself to breathe through your nose, you can enhance the quality of your sleep.

So this week, I want you to notice how you're breathing.

Notice when you're breathing through your mouth, notice when you're breathing through your nose, and realize that there is a right way to breathe....

If you're sprinting up a hill, the right way to breathe is not through your nose... The right way to breathe in that case is a full, open mouth breath.

If you're sleeping or trying to calm yourself down or doing recovery breathing after a workout, the right way to breathe is nasal breathing.

So based on the activity that you're doing, the circumstances that you're in, and the goals for how you want your body to react and behave...

You want to choose the right way to breathe.


And if you want some bonus points (make sure to pat yourself on the back), I want you to try out some of these exercises described and mentioned above.

Hope you have a great week and I'll talk to you next weekend.


Your Coach,



P.S. Apologies on the late delivery of this issue! (I have some excuses... they're really pretty lame... but I'm back on track now 👊)


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