Pressing Reset: Breathe Your Way to Recovery

Hey Fit Friends,

I’m starting a new email called Wednesday Workout Wisdom- the goal is to give you some actionable fitness advice midweek, and then cap off the week with Friday Flex, which will be more philosophical/opinion/unhinged rant. 🙂

Let’s dive straight into today’s topic: “Pressing Reset: Breathe Your Way to Recovery.”

After crushing an intense workout, it’s crucial to shift your body into recovery mode. We’re talking about the parasympathetic nervous system (the ‘rest and digest’ mode) versus the sympathetic nervous system (the ‘fight or flight’ mode).

The sympathetic system revs you up for action during workouts, but post-exercise, you want to activate the parasympathetic system for recovery.

Here’s where your breath comes in as a superhero. Spending just around 2 minutes focusing on your breath can jumpstart parasympathetic recovery. Slow, deliberate breathing signals to your body that it’s time to chill out.

Here are three simple breathing techniques to try after an intense session:

  1. Deep Belly Breathing: This is the most basic and unguided technique. Place a hand on your belly and take deep breaths, expanding your diaphragm with each inhale and contracting it with each exhale. Do this for 2 minutes.
  2. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Using your thumb and ring finger, alternate closing one nostril while inhaling and exhaling through the other. Start with the left nostril, inhale, switch to close the left nostril, and exhale through the right. Then inhale through the right, close it, and exhale through the left. Continue this pattern for 2 minutes.
  3. Box Breathing: Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4, exhale for 4, and hold for 4. Repeat for 2 minutes.

These techniques help calm your nervous system, reduce stress hormones, and promote optimal recovery. So next time you’re wrapping up a sweat session, don’t forget to dedicate a couple of minutes to these simple breathing exercises.

Remember, recovery is just as important as the workout itself! Your body will thank you for it.

Stay awesome and keep crushing those workouts!