2-3 The Science of Breathing 2007

2-3 The Science of Breathing 2007 - .1- k.- }.j's more than...

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Unformatted text preview: .1- k.- }.j's more than automatic. Breathing techniques and patterns are regularly advocated for re- . laxation, stress management, control of psychophysiological states - and improvement of organ function (Ritz Se Roth 2003). - Anatomically speaking, there is a favorable equilibrium (balance I between inhalation and exhalation pressures) 'in breathing, which can be easily- disrupted by fatigue or prolOnged sympathetic (ex- - I. citatory) nervous system arousal, as seen with stress. ‘ _ One therapeutic benefit of yoga is that it may reduce or alle— ' viate some of the chronic negative effects of stress (Jerath et al. - - ' 2096'). .This stress relief is one reason _that breathing, or _ {This article will endeavor to explain the physiological mecha— va isms and the body—mind connection of breathing and willlook LIEh‘ow this connection has been applied to breathing practices, ‘ ' ticu-larlyin yoga. Fitness and wellness professionals will become are aWare of the effects and benefits of mindful breathing and fsho‘uld better able to guide and teach theiris'tuden d clients. __ Breathi _ life,‘ it’s also about quality off. r - i . . I‘. I \I- F .-,.. i - i- . - V V A _. Ezffii I_' -‘ _ ayama as it is Called in yoga, isvery central to yoga practices. _ 2007‘A F't J - .-" 37 I‘ I "855 our By Sarah Novotny'end ' Len 'Kravitz, PhD Breathing Mechanics 101 Breathing, also called ventilation, consists of two phases: inspira— tion and expiration (see Figure 1). During inspiration, the diaphragm and the external intercostal muscles contract. The di— aphragm moves downward, increasing the volume of air in the thoracic (chest) cavity, and the external intercostal muscles pull the ribs up and outward, expanding-the rib cage and further in- creasing chest volume'f'This increase in volume lowers the air pres- sure in the lungs as compared with the atmospheric air. Because air always flows from a region of high pressure to an area of lower :0 ,3 1" 3“; J; pressure, it travels through thiehbody’s c01iductin.§girways (nos— . trils, throat, larynx and trachea) into the alveoli, the yoscopic air sacs in the lungs. During a resting expiration, the phragm and external intercostal muscles relai‘g, restoring the thorac‘y- ing_more emphasis on diaphragmatic bifiqathing. ' - 'L'. Respiration Mechanics 1 02 While breathing is the movement of air in'to and out of the tho- racic cavit , respiration involves the exchange of gases in the L, is . 3.1- lungs. W Jach breath, air passes throufiits conducting zone ' ity to its original (smaller) voltune andforcing air out of the lung into the atmosphere. The practice of proper breathing techniques ' is aimed at eliminating misused accessory chest muscles and plac— Breathing is unique compared with other visceral (e.g., digestive, endocrine, cardiovascular) functions in that it can be regulated voluntarily. into the alveoli. It is here that external (referring to the lungs) res— piration occurs. External respiration is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air and the blood in the lungs. Blood enters the lungs via the pulmonary arteries. It then proceeds through ar— terioles (small branches of the arteries) into the very tiny alveo— lar capillaries. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the blood and the air; oxygen is loaded onto the red blood cells, while carbon dioxide is unloaded from them into the air. The oxy— genated blood then flows out of the alveolar capillaries, through venules (small veins) and back to the heart via the pulmonary veins. The heart then pumps the blood through the systemic ar— teries to deliver oxygen throughout the body. How Does Your Body Control Breathing? Metabolic Control The respiratory center in the brain stem is responsible for con— trolling a person’s breathing rate. It sends a message to the res— piratory muscles, telling them when to contract and when to relax for breathing. The medulla, the part of the brain located nearest the spinal cord, directs the spinal cord to maintain breath— ing, and the pons (a part of the brain very near the medulla) pro— vides further smoothing of the respiration pattern (see Figure 2). This control is automatic, involuntary and continuous. You do not have to consciously think about it. The respiratory center knows how to control the breathing rate and depth by the amount (or percent) of carbon dioxide, oxygen and acidosis in the arterial blood (Willmore 8( Costill 2004). In the arch of the aorta and throughout the arteries, there are receptors, called chemoreceptors, that send signals and feedback (to the respiratory center) to increase or decrease the ventilatory output, depending on the condition of these metabolic variables. For example, when you exercise, carbon dioxide levels increase significantly; this alerts the chemore— ceptors, which subsequently notify the brain’s respiratory cen— ter to increase the speed and depth of breathing. This elevated level of respiration rids the body of excess carbon dioxide and supplies the body with more oxygen, which is needed during aerobic exercise. Upon cessation ofthe exercise, breathing rate and depth grad— ually decline until carbon dioxide levels in the arterial blood re— turn to normal. The respiratory center is no longer stimulated from the exercise, and breathing rate is restored to a pre—exercise pattern. This arterial—pressure—regulation feedback system that carbon dioxide, oxygen and blood acid levels provide is referred to as the metabolic control of breathing (Gallego, Nsegbe & Durand 2001). Behavioral Control Breathing is unique compared with other visceral (e.g., digestive, endocrine, cardiovascular) functions in that it can be regulated 38 February 2007 ME: Fitness Journal voluntarily. The behavioral, or voluntary, control of breathing is located in the cortex of the brain (see Figure 2) and describes that aspect ofbreathing performed with conscious control—for ex- ample, a self—initiated change in breathing before a vigorous ex- ertion or effort. Speaking, singing and playing some instruments (e.g., clarinet, flute, saxophone, trumpet) are good examples of the behavioral control of breathing and are short—lived inter— ventions (Guz 1997). Behavioral control of breathing also encompasses accommo— dating changes in breathing that occur as a result of stress and emotional stimuli. The differentiation between voluntary and automatic (metabolic) breathing is that the latter requires no at— tention, whereas the former involves a given amount of focus (Gallego, Nsegbe & Durand 2001). Gallego and colleagues note that it is not fully understood how the behavioral and metabolic controls of respiration are linked. Pranayama Breathing Pranayama breathing is often performed in yoga and medita— tion. This practice of voluntary breath control refers to inhala— tion, retention and exhalation performed either quickly or slowly (Jerath et al. 2006). As such, yoga breathing is considered “an in— termediary between the mind and body” (Sovik 2000). In many yoga stories and literature, the word prmm (in pranayama) refers to “life force” or energy. This has many appli— cations, especially as it relates to the energy—producing processes within the body. There is a direct connection between the prana of breathing and its effects on energy liberation in the body. Cellular metabolism (reactions in the cell to produce energy), for example, is regulated by oxygen provided during breathing. The yoga purpose ofbreath training is not to override or take prece— dence over the body’s autonomic system, although there is clear evidence that pranayama breathing techniques can affect oxygen consumption and metabolism (lerath et al. 2006). Rather, much ofthe aim ofpranayama breathing is to shift or alter the balance of the autonomic nervous system away from a sympathetic (ex- citatory) dominance. >> Figure 1: Breathing (Ventilation) Mechanics “s \ Thoracic Thoracic Caulty Cavrty Enlarges Decreases Diaphragm Diaphragm Contracts Relaxes (moving [moving downward} upward] Inspiration Expiration Ans .ers to Same Comyi’nonop estions on Breatbin ' O O O 1. How ch you take a deephreath? Although m.y people feel a deep breath comes solely from expansion of be chest, chest breathing (by itself) is not the best way to takm deep breath. To get a full deep breath, 1 breathe from the dnJh‘agm while simultaneously expanding . . the chest. . . . O O O O . . . 2. What happens when you feel breathless? . . Breathlessness is often a response of your “fight or fligh" hormone and nervous systems, which trigger the neck dam . . chest muscles to tighten. This makes breathing labore and I results in that breathless feeling. . . . O . . o l 3. What is hyperventilation syndrome? Hyperventilation syndrome is also known as overbreathing. Breathing too frequently causes this phenomenon. Although feels like a lack of oxygen, this is not the case at all. it Overbreathing causes the body to lose considerable amounts of carbon dioxide. This loss triggers symptoms such as gasp- ing, trembling, choking and the feeling of being smothered. Regrettably, overbreathing is often self—perpetuating, causing carbon dioxide levels to drop even more. Repich (2002) notes that hyperventilation syndrome is common in 10% of the pop- ulation. Fortunately, slow, deep breathing readily alleviates it. Deliberate, even, deep breaths will facilitate the transition to diaphragmatic breathing pattern. a 4. When you feel short of breath, do you need to breathe faster to get more air? Just the opposite. If you breathe fast, you may start to over- breathe and lower your carbon dioxide levels. Once again, slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing is recommended. 5. How do you know if you are hyperventilating? Oftentimes people who are hyperventilating do not realize it. Usually they are focused on the anxiety—provoking situation causing the rapid breathing. With hyperventilation, chest breathing is much more rapid than usual, and thus the chest and shoulders visibly move much more. More quantifiably, if you are taking about 15—17 breaths per minute or more (in a nonexercise situation), you may be hyperventilating. Source: Adapted from Repich 2002. February 2007 lDEA Fitness Journal 39 What Is Asthma? ° Five Common . . . ° Assoctated Myths The word asthma is Wived from a Greek word meaning “to puff or pant. " Typical s ptoms of asthma include wheezing, shortness of breath, c st tightness and a persistent cough. .Asthma attacks develoflrom an involuntary response to a ggger, such as house fist, pollen, tobacco, smoke, furnace air or animal fur. . Asthma provokes aflnflammatory response in the lungs. filirway linings swell LR, the smooth muscle surrounding them contracts, and excw mucus is produced. Airflow is now lim- ited, making it hm for oxygen to get through to the alveoli and into the blodstream.The severity of an asthma attack is deterngilfmy how restricted the ainrvays become. When the y ecome chronically inflamed, it takes only a slight trigger to cause a major reaction in them. Oxygen levels can become low and even life-threatening. Below are some of the common myths about asthma. Myth 1.Asthma is a mental disease. Because asthma sufferers often have attacks when facing emotional stress, some people have identified it as a psycho- somatic condition. Asthma is a real physiological condition. However, emotional stimuli can act as an asthma trigger or worsen an asthma flare-up. Myth 2. Asthma is not a serious health condition. Quite the contrary! Asthma attacks may last several minutes or go on for hours. With extended asthma agitation, one’s health is increasingly threatened. Indeed, if an airway ob- struction becomes severe, the sufferer may experience respi- ratory failure, leading to fainting and possibly death. Myth 3. Children will grow out of asthma as they mature to adulthood. The majority of asthma sufferers will have it for life, although some people do appear to grow out of it. Myth 4. People with asthma shouldn’t exercise. Asthmatics can and should exercise. They should find the types of exercise they feel most comfortable with, as well as the best place and time to do the exercise. Myth 5. Not that many people are affected by asthma. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (2002), 20 million people suffer from asthma in the US, and of that number, 4,261 died of it in 2002. Researchers are unclear if this was because of improper preventive care, chronic over- use of asthma medications or a combination of both factors. Pranayama breathing has been shown to positively affect im- mune function, hypertension, asthma, imbalances in the auto- nomic nervous system, and psychological or stress—related disorders (lerath et al. 2006). Ierath and colleagues add that in- vestigations regarding stress and psychological improvements support evidence that pranayama breathing alters the brain’s in— formation processing, making the practice an intervention that improves a person’s psychological profile. Sovik notes that the main philosophy behind the yoga con- trol of breathing is to “increase awareness and understanding of the relationship between cognitive states, physical function- ing, and breathing styles.” According to Sovik, breath training in— cludes learningto sustain relaxed attention on the flow of breath, to refine and control respiratory movements for optimal breath- ing, and to integrate awareness and respiratory functioning in order to reduce stress and enhance psychological functioning. It is interesting also to recognize that there are several types of breathing common to yoga, including the complete yoga breath (conscious breathing in the lower, middle and upper por- tions of the lungs), interval breathing (in which the duration of inhalation and exhalation are altered), alternate—nostril breath— ing and belly breathing, to name a few (Collins 1998, Ierath et al. 2006). It is equally worth observing that breath awareness was originally developed in yoga to achieve the joining of mind, body and spirit in the search for self—awareness, health and spiritual growth (Collins 1998). Collins points out that some of the breathing techniques used with yoga postures are complex to learn (for some people) and often require independent practice outside of the postures themselves. Although numerous studies show clinically beneficial health effects of pranayama breathing, some studies show that fast—breathing pranayama can cause hy— perventilation, which may hyperactivate the sympathetic nerv— ous system, stressing the body more (Ierath et al. 2006). Thus, some pranayama techniques may be contraindicated for those with asthma because the exercises could lead to agitated bronchial hyperactivity (see “What Is Asthma? Five Common Associated Myths,” left). Slow pranayama breathing techniques show the most practi— cal and physiological benefit, yet the underlying mechanism as to how they work is not fully elucidated in the research (Ierath et al. 2006). However, Ierath and colleagues hypothesize that the voluntary, slow, deep breathing of pranayama “functionally re- Pranayama breathing has been shown to positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, imbalances of the auto- nomic nervous system, and psychological or stress- related disorders (Jerath et al. 2006). 40 February 2007 IDEA Fitness Journal sets the autonomic nervous system through stretch—induced in- hibitory signals and hyperpolarization currents [slowing elec- trical action potentials] . . . which synchronizes neural elements in the heart, lungs, limbic system and cortex.” Investigations have also demonstrated that slow—breathing pranayama techniques activate the parasympathetic (inhibitory) nervous system, thus slowing down certain physiological processes that may be functioning too fast or conflicting with the homeostasis of the cells (Jerath et al. 2006). Cerebral Cortex _,_,_._‘ _ _.I. '_ _ -r—_- -——_r,fir-' Breath Awareness and Yoga: Making the Connection In order to maintain breath awareness and to reduce distractions, -‘_! ——.___._ ii yoga participants practice pranayama in comfortable postures with eyes closed. An outcome of mastering this breath control is that an individual can voluntarily use the practices to ease stress— ful or discomfiting situations. Yoga participants learn how to deal with distractions and stress without having an emotionally stim— ulating physiological response. They practice doing this by first recognizing whatever the distraction or thought may be, and then returning or restoring their focus of attention on their breath— ing (Sovik 2000). The refocusing centers on the thought, “I am breathing” (Sovik 2000). Yoga enthusiasts also use asanas, or spe- cific postures, with pranayama breathing, linking the movement or body position with the breathing techniques. Ierath et al. (2006) .' Reticular state that more research is needed to understand how combining I . formation breathing and asanas elicits beneficial health outcomes. >> : -. — 27- 1_—=_— .. ___4..:._u——_n__. Understanding the Flo/e of Diet, Nutrition, Exercise and ' - ' w Learn how to help facilitate weight loss in your clients by under “811ml Guitar: and psychological issues that affect their weight. includes pra :I'EI'IEE‘MWOL clients change their eating habits. along with information on the re -- ' '"“ $19.95 Mamner, $29.95 Nonmember lTEM casenss The Group Fitness Instructor’s Handbook Creative and Practical Solutions for Designing Greet Ciasses Create group fitness classes that draw a crowd with this collection of successful classes and practical ideas from experts in the field. Filled with over a dozen sample classes, this lDEA "1' at“! Hm” Resource Series is sure to inspire your creativity. 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HEALTH 8- FITNESS ASSOCIATION February 2007 lDEA Fitness Journal 41 Figure 3: Identifying the Feeling of Lateral Rib Cage Expansion Optional Breathing: Activating the Diaphragm For most untrained individuals, the everyday experience of breathing is much more inconsistent than one would assume. Yoga practitioners often first learn to observe their own breath- ing to become familiar with the sensations of respiration. Thus, one meaningful aspect of learning breathing techniques is the awareness that develops of the difference between smooth, even breathing and erratic breathing. Modifications in respi- ratory patterns come naturally to some individuals after one lesson; however, it may take up to 6 months to ultimately change the way one breathes (Sovik 2000). The general rule, noted by Gallego et al. (2001), is that if a voluntary act is re— peated, “learning occurs, and the neurophysiological and cog— nitive processes underpinning its control may change.” Gallego et al. go on to assert that longer—term studies are warranted to better understand the attention—demanding phases involved in these breathing changes. Some yogis believe that the diaphragm, which should play a primary role in respiration, is underfunctioning in many people (Sovik 2000). Thus, emphasis is often placed on learning di— aphragmatic breathing, rather than using the overactive chest muscles. Anatomically, the diaphragm sits beneath the lungs and is above the organs of the abdomen (see Figure 1). It lies between the upper (thoracic) and lower (abdominal) cavities of the torso and is attached at the base ofthe ribs, the spine and the sternum. With diaphragmatic breathing, the initial focus of attention is on the expansion of the abdomen, sometimes referred to as ab— dominal or belly breathing. The breath— ing focus includes the expansion of the rib cage during the inhalation. To help a student learn this, have him or her place the edge of the hands along— side the rib cage (at the level of the ster— num); correct diaphragmatic breathing will elicit a noticeable lateral expansion of the rib cage (see Figure 3 on page 42). Diaphragmatic breathing should be prac- ticed in the supine, prone and erect posi— tions, as these are the functional positions of daily life. Eventually, the diaphragmatic breathing is integrated with physical movements/ asanas, during meditation and during re— laxation. A trained practitioner can focus at- tention on daily—life activities while naturally doing diaphragmatic breathing. Sovik suggests that optimal breathing (at rest) is diaphragmatic, nasal (inhala- tion and exhalation), smooth, deep, even, quiet and free of pauses. Better Breathing for a Better Life The research is very clear that breathing exercises (e.g., pranayama breathing) can enhance parasympathetic tone (inhibit neural responses), decrease sympathetic (excitatory) nervous activity, improve res- piratory and cardiovascular function, de— crease the effects of stress and improve physical and mental health (Pal,Vell<umary & Madanmohan 2004). Knowledgeable health and fitness professionals may wish to incorporate proper slow—breathing ex— ercises into their sessions and classes as a proven, effective way to help clients and students strive toward their physical and psychological goals. I Sarah Novotny is a senior at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque (UNMA). She is currently majoring in exercise science and intending to pursue a graduate degree in physical therapy after graduation. She plans to continue research in different ar— eas, including hydrotherapy and physical rehabilitation. Len Kravitz, PhD, is the program coordinator ofexercise science and a researcher at UNMA, where he won the 2004 Outstanding Teacher ofthe Year Award. He was honored with the 1999 Canadian Fitness Professionals (Can— Fit—Pro) International Presenter of the Year and 2006 Can—Fit-Pro Specialty Presenter of the Year awards, and the 2006 ACE Fitness Educator oft/1e Year award. (I) 2007 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited, References Collins, C. 1998. Yoga: Intuition, preventive medicinc, and treatment IournalofOlistetrir, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, 27 (5), 563—681 Gullego, ]., Nseghe, E. , 8r Durand, E. 2001. Learning in res- piratory control. Behavior Modification, 25 (4), 49z¥512. Guz, At 1997. Brain, breathing and breathlessnesst Respiration Physiology, 109, 197—204. Ierath, R., et al 20061 Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: Neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervoth system. Medical Hypotheses, 67, 566—7 1 . National Center for Health Statistics. 2002. U5 Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdcgov/ nchs/products/pttbS/pubd/hestats/asthma/asthma .htm; retrieved Nov. 5, 2006. Pal, G.K., \Ielkumary, 8., & Madanmohan. 2004. Effect ofshort—term practice threathing exercises on auto- nomic functions in normal human volunteers. Indian lournal ofMedical Research, 120, 1 15—21. Repich, D. 2002. Overcoming concerns about breathing. www.conqueranxiety.com/overcoming-concerns— about-breathingasp; retrieved Nov 5, 2006. Ritz, T., & Roth, WTT. 2003. Behavioral interventions in asthma Behavior Modification, 27 (5), 7 10e30. Sovik, R. 2000. The science ofbreathing: The yogic view Progress in Brain Research, 127 (Chapter 34), 4917505. Willmore, 1., 8" Costill, D1 2004. Physiology ofSport and Exercise (3rd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. HIEA PHDFESSIIIIIAL EIIUEAIIIJII (a, Enhance Your Clients' SPORTS PERFORMANCE 'V-r' Whether you're working with young athletes. weekend warriors or elite high- performance athletes, these comprehensive DVDs from Twist Conditioning inc. will teach you how to accelerate your elrents to optimal levels of performance. New Available with CECs ABILITY, flUlCKNESS AND REACTION SKILLS ITEM (3910002 SPORT BALANCE ITEM [3910001 CCBE POWER ITEM cannon LINKED SYSTEM“ STRENGTH: CHEST 8: BACK lTEM CQIUUUB LINKED SYSTEM" STRENGTH: LEGS & SHDULDERS ITEM column Each DVD is $29.95 Member, $34.95 Nonmember iLEC comes are an additional S-‘IEI tor :uemtiens .1an $345 Ior nnriiiiemlte", Farli course is epprtlu'etl tor the liilln'riint]. ACE n it. BIT-RP.“ Fi. Can-Fit -?ro 3. SPHA El. i-‘uFI l‘A 4. NSA I] 3 Advance innit career by LlIElCIlnlj at www.idsalit.cumi’urLailucatian [II call us at 811113934332. ext. 7, at 858.535.3979, ext. 71 February 2007 IDEA Fitness Journal HEALIII & FITNESS ASSOCIAIION 43 ...
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