Breathing is something that your body does naturally, without any conscious thought, so it might seem like improving your breathing is a silly endeavor. But your breathing rate affects how quickly oxygen is delivered to your blood and organs, and can even affect your heart rate. The 7/11 breathing technique was originally developed to combat the hyperventilation that sometimes goes along with anxiety and panic attacks. You can also use it to help slow down your breathing and take in more oxygen during exercise.
Benefits of 7/11
When your body gets enough oxygen, your heart rate and blood pressure may slow down and become more regular. Your organs and muscles work more effectively and you'll feel more at ease. 7/11 can help with anxiety as well as panic attacks, and can also help you avoid hyperventilating during stressful moments. Many people have difficulty controlling their breathing during exercise, and 7/11 can help you become more mindful of your breathing and breathe in a healthier, more regulated way when you're pounding away at the treadmill or lifting weights.
7/11 Breathing How-To
Take a deep breath in through your nose for seven seconds. Then slowly exhale through your nose for 11 seconds. Some people have trouble breathing and exhaling for this long, so if you struggle, gradually build up; you can start at inhaling for two seconds and exhaling for five seconds, for example. Your goal should simply be to exhale for longer than you inhale. Your stomach should move out when you inhale; this is called diaphragm breathing, and is the most efficient way to breathe, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
7/11 and Exercise
When you're exercising, try a 7/11 approach to breathing to slow the pace of your breaths and maximize your muscle's access to oxygen. If you find you can't breathe this slowly, focus instead on simply exhaling for longer than you inhale, and breathing at regular intervals. You can also use 7/11 to help slow your breathing after an intense exercise session.
Not everyone can master 7/11 breathing, so if you have a heart or lung condition, consult your doctor before trying. Drinking plenty of water and remaining well-rested can make it easier to focus on your breathing. Some people find that they need to lie down when they first try this breathing technique. As you get better at it, focus on sitting up straight and breathing without moving your shoulders.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.