If you find that working out and dieting alone aren't helping you reach your weight-loss goals, adding deep breathing exercises to your daily workout plan may help you reduce stress. Stress is one of the potential causes of weight gain, and being stressed out can make it difficult to lose weight. Reducing your stress levels may make losing weight easier.
Being stressed out leads to tight muscles, headaches and bad eating habits, and it can also lead to weight gain or problems losing weight. Over time, stress increases a hormone in your body called cortisol; that hormonal change increases your appetite and causes you to crave high-calorie and sweet foods. These changes, subsequent cravings and bad eating habits end up causing you weight problems.
Breathing techniques and meditation have been used for centuries for relaxation and stress reduction. Deep breathing raises the level of oxygen in your blood. If you've ever taken a yoga class, you know that deep breathing is used with movement to help you relax. Yoga deep breathing has been successfully used as a treatment for stress, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. Use yoga breathing or a similar deep breathing technique on a regular basis for stress reduction.
In a preliminary study published in the August 2010 issue of "Biomedical Research," researchers at Aoyama Clinic in Japan describe a natural deep abdominal breathing technique, called Senobi, that they used as an initial weight-loss method in obese patients. This breathing exercise involves a simple stretching technique that the researchers suggest may activate the nervous system in a way that helps stimulate weight loss. However, the results of this study have not been confirmed by other independent research groups. While these results are interesting, this technique should not be considered a reliable method for losing weight.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates a balanced diet and exercise as the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Have a sensible diet plan in place that reduces the number of calories you take in each day and combine that with regular exercise to lose weight. While it can't hurt to incorporate some simple deep breathing exercises for reducing stress, breathing techniques alone will not help you achieve your weight-loss goals. Breathing exercises will help you reduce your stress level, making it easier for you to focus on eating right and exercising. If you are new to exercise and healthy eating, consult with your doctor or health care provider first to determine the best weight-loss program to fit your goals and lifestyle.
- University of New Mexico: Cortisol Connection: Tips on Managing Stress and Weight
- Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Yoga Breathing, Meditation, and Longevity
- Biomedical Research: The "Senobi" Breathing Exercise Is Recommended as First Line Treatment for Obesity.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Weight - It's Not a Diet, It's a Lifestyle!
Kris Heeter is a research scientist specializing in basic cancer and disease research. Her work has appeared in several scholarly journals and online publications. Heeter has also been a wellness professional for more than 15 years, teaching healthy cooking courses and fitness classes. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology.