How to breathe when exercising

Whether you’re running, lifting weights or doing yoga, there are certain breathing techniques that can give you the optimal performance you’re looking for. Learning how to breathe efficiently helps the body deliver enough oxygen to function properly and it will also allow you to exercise longer with less effort.

How to breathe when exercising


Taking one breath for every two steps has been found to be the most comfortable breathing tactic for runners. This is when you take one step with your left foot then one with your right whilst breathing in, and then the same whilst breathing out; this is known as the 2:2 rhythm.

Nose vs. mouth

There has been much debate whether you should breathe through your nose or through your mouth when running. There are arguments for both sides, but generally it’s easier to use your mouth for least resistance.

Strength training

Cardiovascular activity isn’t the only type of exercise that can benefit from a good breathing technique. Most people who do strength training will most likely understand that exhaling in the exertion phase of a repetition helps. It’s logical; when you contract your respiratory muscles, it helps brace the load when lifting heavier weights, while maintaining lumbar stability.


‘Equal breathing’ is where you inhale and exhale to an equal length and this is fundamental to yoga. It’s said to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and also calm your nervous system.

To take part in a more intense type of yoga, a ‘victorious breath’ might be what you’re looking for. To do this, try breathing through your nose whilst maintaining a slight contraction at the back of the throat.

When you start holding your breath to maintain a difficult pose, it’s time to stop and have a small break. Yoga can be tough on the body so it’s important not to strain yourself in the process.

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Written by Ross East

Written by Ross East

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