Health Benefits of Slow Breathing Exercises
Slow breathing exercises have been found to be a very effective way of quickly lowering your blood pressure. However, there are actually many other slow breathing health benefits as well.
As an introduction, here’s a passage from David O’Hara explaining the scientific background of using slow breathing exercises to lower blood pressure and improve well-being the natural way.
(David O’Hara is the founder of the Breatheasy system of slow breathing exercises, which we used successfully to lower our blood pressure. See our Breatheasy review. The Breatheasy program is no longer available so we have created our own set of audio tracks for guided slow breathing.)
The gurus and alternative health promoters were right. Scientists have now proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that our breathing helps to regulate blood pressure, heart rate and many other important aspects of our health.
Research reveals that breathing is a slow and regulated way can bring numerous health benefits such as lower blood pressure, chronic stress and anxiety relief, and much, much more.
But you don’t need to dedicate the rest of your life to mastering yoga or other ancient health systems to get these benefits. That’s because science has also identified the exact rate, patterns and other mechanisms of breathing to get the best results. And they have developed these findings into a system that delivers significant and lasting blood pressure reductions in just 15 minutes a day.
It’s called slow breathing.
You may have seen their breakthrough biofeedback device which has been advertised around the world [Resperate]. But now there is another breakthrough. You don’t need expensive and complicated technology to get all the benefits that slow breathing has to offer.
A quality slow breathing exercise audio program captures the power of slow breathing in a simple and easy to use audio program available. The difference is music, real music, not computer generated jingles. That makes a slow breathing exercise audio program more effective because slow breathing requires relaxation to be effective. In fact, the more relaxed you are, the greater the benefits.
What’s more, music has its own therapeutic powers. Researchers have recently demonstrated how listening to music can lower our blood pressure.
Even more remarkable is the findings that the benefits of music increase when combined with slow breathing. That’s exactly what a quality slow breathing exercise audio program is – a unique, powerful and effective combination of slow breathing with real music in a simple and use-friendly format.
100% safe and natural.
Using a slow breathing exercise audio program is simple. Just relax to the music, breathe along with the unique guided breathing track, and enjoy. Master the method and use slow breathing with your own music in a countless number of situations.
There is no easier way to acquire a method with a lifetime pay-off.
Slow breathing health benefits for high blood pressure
Slow breathing is actually the fastest way to lower your blood pressure. Slowing down your breathing lowers your heart rate and relaxes your blood vessels, both of which contribute to an immediate decrease in blood pressure and an improvement in circulation.
It’s also thought that regularly doing slow breathing exercises can bring down high blood pressure in the long-term too. This is less well understood. However, scientists think it is to do with the moderating effect of slow breathing on the autonomic nervous system. (The autonomic nervous system regulates the things our body does automatically, such as breathe and digest etc. It’s also involved in regulating blood pressure.)
You can read more about how slow breathing lowers blood pressure here: How does slow breathing lower blood pressure?
As the American Heart Association stated in their 2013 review of non-drug treatments of hypertension:
Slow deep breathing, as practiced by meditation, yoga, and several relaxation techniques, has long been thought capable of favorably affecting BP. A short period of deep breathing (6 breaths in 30 seconds) has been shown to reduce systolic BP by 3.4 to 3.9 mm Hg within minutes in a clinic setting compared with quiet rest. Beyond the short term, it has been postulated that using deep-breathing techniques over weeks to months may additionally yield long-term reductions in BP.
Other slow breathing health benefits
Slow breathing also reduces blood pressure by helping reduce stress, which can be a key cause of high blood pressure, for some people and at some times. You can read about this more here: Slow breathing to reduce stress
Experiencing stress, especially chronic stress, can have damaging effects on many aspects of our mental and physical health. Raising blood pressure and heart rate is one. This can actually be dangerous if your blood pressure is already high or you have heart problems.
Another major effect of stress is that it suppresses the immune system. A well-functioning immune system is vital for our basic health. When it’s compromised we’re far more prone to colds and common infections. And we’re also more at risk of developing various chronic health conditions.
And of course, stress can also contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Slow breathing exercises are one of the simplest and most effective ways of reducing stress. As such, they can have profoundly beneficial effects on any aspect of health that’s affected by stress.
Sufferers of anxiety will also find slow breathing can quickly relieve anxiety. Breathing slowly lowers the heart rate and literally calms the nerves. So it’s a great technique for both relieving and preventing severe anxiety and panic.
Easing insomnia and helping you sleep
Doing slow breathing exercises before you go to bed can go a long way to helping you sleep. Slow breathing activates the part of your nervous system responsible for producing a ‘relaxation response’. As such, it directly helps relax your body and unwind your mind. A better night’s sleep will often await 🙂
Better brain waves!
Slow breathing is also just good for calming and clearing your mind and improving your concentration.
Studies at the University of Phoenix have shown that slow breathing can change the basic activity of your brain. Specifically, doing slow breathing exercises produces brain waves which foster a relaxed yet alert state of mind.
Another of the slow breathing health benefits is pain relief. Numerous studies are showing that breathing slowly can reduce pain. And numerous health practitioners now recommend slow breathing and other relaxation practices for sufferers of chronic pain. Slow breathing can help relieve both chronic pain and episodes of acute pain. It works by relaxing the muscles – so is particularly good for muscle-related pain. It also works on all types of pain by relaxing the mind and reducing the perception of pain – also very powerful.
Reduction of hot flashes during menopause
Regular slow breathing can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes (or hot flushes) during the menopause. The North American Menopause Society recommend doing regular practice of slow paced breathing and using it whenever you feel a hot flash coming on.
Benefits for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Slow breathing has also been found to improve various aspects of the physiological functioning of sufferers of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Benefits for chronic heart failure (CHF)
Slow breathing has been found to improve various aspects of the health of those living with chronic heart failure. This includes reducing the shortness of breath that you can get with CHF and improve the capacity for physical exercise.
Immune system benefits
As mentioned above in the section on stress, breathing slowly can also improve the functioning of the immune system. This is because breathing slowly helps stimulate the part of the nervous system that promotes rest and relaxation. This in turn has knock-on benefits for the body such as reducing inflammation throughout the body, which helps the immune system to function more effectively. (If you’re interested in this, read this article for details on the vagus nerve, inflammation and the immune system.)
Just do it
These are just some of the slow breathing health benefits. If you want to know more, just do a search online for slow breathing health benefits. You’ll find you’re overwhelmed by myriad articles extolling its virtues!
As well as the direct physiological health benefits of slow breathing, there are also the knock-on effects of simply taking some time to be with yourself quietly and focus on your breathing. This in itself is calming and creates a bit of space and time in your day.
As some meditators say, just enacting your intention of sitting down to meditate has powerful effects, irrespective of how well you manage to concentrate during your meditation! With slow breathing, you do actually need to breathe slowly to get the full therapeutic benefits. And evidence suggests that the more slowly you can learn to breathe, the deeper the slow breathing health benefits. However, the important thing is just to start doing it!
NOTE: If you have a physical problem with your breathing, you may need more specialist help than guided audio tracks. Also, some people can find focusing on their breathing to be stressful or distressing. For example, some people who get panic attacks may find it difficult. The best thing in this case is to talk with your doctor about it. Of course, talk to a doctor first if you have any concerns about trying slow breathing exercises.
How to do slow breathing effectively
Slow breathing is obviously very simple. But sometimes simple things can be the hardest! To get the maximum slow breathing health benefits it’s recommended that you do it for at least fifteen minutes most days.
However, if you’re not used to it, it can be hard to maintain your focus on breathing slowly for that long. Or it can just be a bit tricky to keep breathing at a steady pace.
Luckily the remedy is simple – just breathe along to guided audio tracks. Conveniently, we have some available right here! Click here to listen to samples of our guided slow breathing tracks:
Guided slow breathing with audio tracks – how it works
Guided slow breathing audio tracks have breathing prompts that you just breathe in time with – that way you don’t have to worry about timing yourself, or counting, or wondering if you’re breathing slowly enough, or regularly enough.
Our Breathe-Slow collection has different audio tracks with breathing prompts set at different rates (10, 8, 6, 5, and 4 breaths-per-minute, a ‘breath’ here being an in-breath and out-breath). So you can just choose an audio track that’s a bit slower than your current breathing rate and practice with that. Then you can gradually work your way down to slower and slower breathing rates as you get used to doing it.
Generally, the more slowly you breathe, the more deeply you relax, and the more profound the therapeutic benefits.
Listening to relaxing music has also been found to be relaxing in and of itself and can relieve stress and anxiety and lower high blood pressure. So most of our audio tracks have soothing music in the background. For each breaths-per-minute cycle, you can choose from tracks with three different types of background music.
For each breaths-per-minute cycle there is also an audio track with only the breathing prompts and no background music at all. You might find this more relaxing, or you might want to play your own background music. Studies of listening to music and blood pressure have found that how you personally respond to a piece of music is crucial to its effect on your mind and body, and your blood pressure. So this option allows you to choose music that you find particularly relaxing and/or joyful, in order to get the maximum health benefits.
Buy Breathe-Slow audio tracks
The entire Breathe Slow collection of guided slow breathing audio tracks is now available for $17 USD (about £13 or €15).
You’ll get a total of twenty audio tracks: four tracks for each of the five breathing cycles – 10, 8, 6, 5, and 4 breaths per minute. (For each breathing cycle, three of the four tracks have different types of background music and the fourth track has no background music – just the breathing prompts.) So you can always choose a track to suit your desired breathing rate and your musical mood ?
The Breathe-Slow audio tracks come with a 60 day no-questions-asked 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not completely satisfied with your investment. Note that this is a digital download ONLY – no CDs will be sent to you.
To order physical CDs, click here:
(note that the physical CDs do not include the 4 breaths per minute tracks)
Slow breathing exercises: references and more information
Post by Alison.