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  • Writer's picturePaula Anderson, R.D.H.

Effects of Shallow Breathing on YOUR Body

We all know the body is a magically interwoven miracle with an almost impossible number of connections that can effect our health. But what many people don't know is how easy it is to boost their health and immunity by just breathing correctly. In this article, I want to talk to you about the short and long term effects of shallow breathing. You might be surprised with with all the ways it can effect a human body! The good news is we will also talk about what you can do improve your breathing quality.

woman taking a deep breathe surrounded by flowers

The average person can survive about 3 days without water, and up to 21 without food. By contrast, the average person can only last about 4 minutes without breathing. Needless to say it is absolutely crucial to our health to breathe well. In fact, low quality breath or "shallow breathing" has been linked to a myriad of health conditions.

Thy lymphatic system is particularly vulnerable to shallow breathing. Numerous studies have shown that shallow breathing results in low levels of lymphocyte, a white blood cell that helps eliminate pathogens from the body. This translates to shallow breathers being highly susceptible to illnesses and infections simply because there body chemistry isn't prepared for daily life. This can be compounded if the individual is breathing shallowly through the mouth.

woman standing in front of the gate at a tennis court

The reason for this under production of white blood cells is not enough oxygen being distributed into the body. How do we change that? The quickest, and immediate fix is to nasal breath and feel the breath entering our lungs. Think about how a newborn baby breaths? It is almost an exaggerated form of breathing by comparison to many adults, but it is actually the natural, proper way to breath. These newborns are breathing deep enough to activate their diaphragm which in turn regulates body chemistry and helps them achieve many growth functions.

Shallow breathing on the other hand, has the opposite effect on individuals where are body chemistry is literally out of balance. Adults who shallow breath have been linked to anxiety, depression and feelings of desperation. Depending on the severity of the shallow breathing a person can experience anything from persistent stress to outright panic attacks.

Beyond just these stress and mood related symptoms, shallow breathing has also been linked to cognitive ability and function. With a link from everything to test taking ability to memory functioning and even our sensory perceptions can be altered by shallow breathing. With all these downsides what can someone do to immediately reverse the damage?

man taking a deep breathe outside

The first and most immediate step is to begin nasal breathing asap. This will force air into the lower parts of the lungs and activate the diaphragm more completely. This small step will begin to increase oxygenation. However for many people who have been breathing poorly for years or even decades they may have formed new breathing patters that will be difficult to overcome.

There is still hope though, during sleep we can tape our mouth shut with special tape designed just for this reason. This will force us to nasal breath and give you eight hours of proper breathing. You can also try nasal strips such as Breath Right or rubs such as Vicks to clear the nasal passages, this will encourage nasal breathing although is not as effective as lip taping.

For the rest of the day when we are not sleeping there is Myofunctional Therapy! Which helps to improve the quality of breathing through a series of exercises and targeted movements that will re-train the body to breath properly through habit forming repetition.

If you or someone you know is feeling lethargic stressed, or doesn't feel quite as sharp as they know they can be remember the importance of breathing.

woman mediating outside

Try slow, deep nasal breaths to stimulate oxygenation

  • Try lip taping and nasal strips during sleep time

  • Practice activating the diaphragm

  • Breath deeply into the lower lung through the nose

If these steps still don't leave you feeling revitalized your body CAN BE retrained to breath properly. It is within your reach with Myofunctional Therapy. If you or a loved one can benefit from these services in breathing better and more fully for better mental capacity, memory, with less stress and more energy don't hesitate to contact me. I love helping people reclaim their wellness through the body's amazing natural abilities.

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