How to Breathe on a Treadmill

Always breathe deeply and regularly while working out on the treadmill.
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In addition to all the benefits of regular cardiovascular exercise -- including improved heart health and lung capacity, among other perks -- walking on a treadmill burns about 75 to 90 calories per hour, while running on one melts away roughly 105 to 125 calories per hour, according to Syracuse University researchers and “Runner's World” magazine. This difference in pace not only determines your calorie burn, it influences your breathing methods. Consistency, rhythm and control are the keys to proper treadmill breathing, whether walking or running.

    Maintain proper posture, no matter what your exercise speed. Relax your shoulders and neck, keep your back and neck straight, hold your elbows at 90 degrees and point your eyes straight ahead. Keep your hands relaxed to dispel tension from your body. A healthy posture helps facilitate proper breathing.

    Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth while walking on a treadmill, inhaling deeply. Your nasal passages create more resistance than your mouth, which may increase the strength and elasticity of your lungs. Focus on breathing “through your belly,” so that you expand your stomach rather than lift your shoulders.

    Breathe in and out through your mouth if you're running. Keep your mouth open and relaxed to maximize oxygen intake and facilitate deep breathing. As when walking, breathe through your belly rather than your chest and maintain proper posture throughout your run.

    Establish and maintain a steady breathing rhythm, whether you're walking or running. This rhythm varies depending on your pace; for instance, take two footsteps for each inhalation and one for each exhalation while walking, or three per inhalation and two per exhalation while running. Make each breath slow and deep -- avoid shallow breathing, rapid breaths, panting or gasping. If you're unable to maintain a steady breathing rhythm, reduce the intensity of your exercise until you can breathe steadily and deeply.

    Exhale fully on each breath, regardless of your pace. When exercising on the treadmill, it's easy to focus on inhaling, but exhalation expels carbon dioxide from the lungs, which allows you to take in more oxygen on your next inhalation.


    • To test your breathing method, place one hand on your belly and one on your chest after you've run or walked for a few minutes on the treadmill. If you're breathing correctly, the hand on your belly should move with each breath while the hand on your chest should remain still.

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