At the age of 36 I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma. I was living a healthy lifestyle, exercising and teaching daily aerobics classes. It didn’t make sense to me that I would be afflicted with this condition. I referred myself to an asthma and allergy specialist who was able to control my condition with medication. I was very grateful because I was worried that I would have to stop teaching and exercising altogether. My mom also had asthma which wasn’t well controlled. She was prednisone dependent and I did not want to end up like that. Winters were miserable because cold air was a trigger for my asthma. If exposed to people with upper respiratory infections or viruses and I got it, my asthma intensified the illness and my recovery took weeks.
Asthma is chronic disease of the lungs. The airways of people with asthma are always inflamed. It has two different classifications- allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is considered an autoimmune disease while non-allergic asthma is not an autoimmune disease. I had allergic asthma. I am allergic to dogs, which I love, and cats, which I don’t. Strong perfumes or cigarette smoke would always set my asthma off. I am allergic to grasses of all kinds. For the most part I gave up running outdoors because of the allergens I would encounter. It just wasn’t worth it even though I love being outside in the fresh air and sunshine.
A couple of years after my diagnosis I started Pilates. Its emphasis on breath was difficult for me in the beginning. I could not do Hundreds without coughing through the exercise. I felt constricted and breathless when flexed up into the starting position, so an already challenging exercise was more so for me. Breathing into the posterior and lateral aspects of my lungs well was extremely difficult so my shoulders were elevated which is a compensatory pattern in respiration. I also had to shorten the number of inhalations and exhalations, 5 breaths in and 5 breaths out were not possible for me at first. It took time, but eventually I started to learn the mechanics of a proper breath cycle. It is possible to direct the breath into different parts of the body. With asthma it is not a matter of getting oxygen in, but of exhaling adequately so you can inhale. So, learning to exhale completely was a skill I had to learn as well as connecting my body to my breath and making it a conscious action instead of an automatic reflex. Improved breathing has benefited every aspect of my life.
Today I am healthier and stronger because I am able to better oxygenate my muscles and oxygen is the primary fuel for many of our muscles. I can exercise longer and harder because my breath patterns are so improved and I don’t fatigue as quickly. Struggling for air is a thing of the past and dependence on inhalers is negligible. I contribute all of this to Pilates and a dedication to making movement a part of my daily routine.
Prior to becoming a fitness professional, I was an overweight, out of shape, stay at home mom who led a sedentary lifestyle. I didn’t know how to start, much less maintain, an exercise program or a healthy lifestyle. My fitness journey began 20 years ago when I made an appointment with a dietician in order to lose weight. On the very first visit she informed me that for weight loss to be permanent, exercise was a must. By making exercise a part of my daily life along with healthy lifestyle changes I took control of my health and fitness. A passion was discovered and a dream to help others achieve their fitness goals was born. Over the years I have taught group fitness, yoga, Pilates, body sculpting and cardio heart rate training as well as personal training. In 2004 I became a STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor and in 2007 I opened up my own Pilates studio. We have 8 instructors who meet the needs of a variety of clients with a wide range of issues and goals. I enjoy empowering others to reach their fitness goals through Pilates, personal training and virtual coaching. I receive great satisfaction when my clients reach their goals, whether it is improving race times, losing weight, relieving pain or reducing stress and feeling more energized because they have made fitness a part of their daily lives. I became an instructor trainer for STOTT PILATES® in 2013 and I now educate others who want to be instructors. I become invested in my students and enjoy mentoring them so they can become the awesome instructors they were meant to be.
It is never too late to improve your health and fitness or to pursue your passion. I didn’t start until I was 30 and I can honestly say that I am in better shape than I have ever been. I wake up each morning with a sense of purpose feeling inspired and excited to share my knowledge and passion with others.
10 Benefits of Deep Breathing
1. Deep Breathing makes you calmer. Breathing deeply and feeling calm is your natural state. Deep breathing naturally relaxes the mind and body. Breathing deeply is the fastest way to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, aka the relaxation response, which makes you feel relaxed. Stress is at the core of most diseases and most of us live stressful busy lives, which is commonly accompanied with shallow breathing. When we breathe shallowly, the body does not receive as much oxygen as it needs and it makes our muscles constrict. You can almost feel this tightening when you are stressed or tense. The sympathetic nervous system is triggered when we feel stress or anxiety and sends out spikes of cortisol and adrenaline. It is the parasympathetic nervous system which counteracts this and breath is the fastest way for these two systems to communicate. With deeper breathing you can turn the switch from high alarm to low in seconds. Remember if you ever feel anxious to breathe deeply. Pay attention and you can feel the peace coming in and the tension being released as you simply (but deeply) breathe in and out.
2. Deep Breathing helps to detoxify the body. Our bodies are designed to release 70 percent of its toxins through breathing. Carbon dioxide is a natural toxic waste that comes from the body’s metabolic processes and it needs to be expelled from the body regularly and consistently. It gets transferred from the blood to our lungs and we expel it with our breath. However, when our lungs are compromised by shallow breathing, the other detoxification systems in the body take over and have to work harder to expel this waste. This overload can make the body weaker and lead to illness.
3. Deep Breathing relieves pain. Studies have proved it yet when we feel pain our instant unconscious reaction is to hold our breath. Remember that breathing deeply and breathing into pain will help to release it. Deep breathing releases endorphins which are the body’s natural feel good pain killers.
4. Deep Breathing makes you happier. Breathing deeply will increase the neurochemical production in the brain and release more of the ones that elevate moods and control pain.
5. Deep Breathing helps to improve your posture. Bad posture is often directly linked with incorrect breathing. Try it yourself and as you practice breathing deeply watch how you naturally straighten up. Filling your lungs encourages you to straighten your spine and stand or sit taller.
6. Deep Breathing stimulates the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a crucial system in our body that most of us are fairly unaware of. We know much more about our circulatory systems but we have twice the amount of lymphatic fluid in our body as we do blood. Our circulatory system relies on our heart to pump it, while the lymphatic system relies on our breathing to get it moving. The blood pumps oxygen and nutrients to the cells and once they absorb what they need they excrete their waste back out into the sea of lymphatic fluid that our cells constantly swim in. The lymph fluid is responsible for ridding the body of the debris the cells excrete and also dead cells and other waste. As our breathing is what moves the lymph, breathing shallowly can lead to a sluggish lymphatic system which is not detoxifying properly. Deep breathing will help get that lymph flowing properly so your body can work more efficiently.
7. Deep Breathing increases our cardiovascular capacity. It gives many of the same benefits of exercise and can enhance the benefits you get from exercise. Aerobic exercise (cardio) uses fat as energy, while anaerobic exercise (strength training) uses glucose as energy. By expanding our cardiovascular capacity from deep breathing we can do more cardio easier, which also increases our cardiovascular capacity and burns more fat cells as well.
8. Deep Breathing gives you energy. Drawing air deeper down into the lungs greatly increases blood flow as this is where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs, according to the American Medical Student Association. This increases energy and also improves stamina. The higher oxygen content of the blood, which cleanses the body and all its cells of debris and toxins, along with better circulation, better sleep, stress reduction, your body working more efficiently, and all that goes along with these naturally gives you lots more energy.
9. Deep Breathing improves your digestion. More oxygen is supplied to the digestive organs and thereby helping them to work more efficiently. Deeper breathing also results in an increased blood flow, which in the digestive tract encourages intestinal action and will further improve your overall digestion. It addition, deeper breathing results in a calmer nervous system which in turn also enhances optimal digestion.
10. Deep Breathing strengthens the major organs of the body, such as lungs and the heart. Deep breathing expands the lungs and makes them work more efficiently. It also brings in more oxygen to the blood which gets sent to the heart and makes it so that the heart does not have to work so hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Also, with the lungs working a little harder pushing out oxygen into the blood it eases the pressure needed by the heart to pump it through the body. This improves your circulation and gives the heart a bit of a break.
Bonus: 11. Deep Breathing helps to regulate weight. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen will help to feed the cells and tissues. If you are overweight it will assist with weight loss. The extra oxygen in the body will help to burn up excess fat more efficiently. When we are stressed, and most of us live day to day in a fairly stressed state, your body tends to burn glycogen instead of fat. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response which encourages the body to burn fat instead.
Deep Breathing improves overall health and lowers our chances of sickness or disease. Breathing deeply helps to clean our blood by removing the carbon dioxide and increasing oxygen. Most diseases in the body begin with having unclean blood. Blood that is clean will wash the cells and tissues and remove toxins and waste so that illness and disease will not develop. The increased oxygen supply that comes from deep breathing also improves our nervous system, which interacts with all parts of the body, thereby improving our overall health.
Deep breathing helps you to sleep better.
Deep breathing lowers blood pressure.
Deep breathing increases circulation
Deep breathing is one of the easiest ways to improve your health dramatically that you can easily do from anywhere, at any time. It costs nothing and takes very little effort. Take a little time each day to practice it and it will greatly reward your efforts.
Breathe deep and be happier and healthier!
It’s natural for newly pregnant women to be concerned about the health and wellness of their developing babies. However, some nervous new moms believe myths over facts and subsequently miss out on many benefits of physical activity. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Here are some popular myths about exercise and pregnancy that need to be debunked:
Myth: Exercise increases miscarriage rates.
While about 10%-20% of early pregnancies end in miscarriage, studies show no correlation between low to moderate intensity exercise and miscarriage. On the contrary, physical fitness is a protective factor.
Myth: During pregnancy a woman’s heart rate should never get above 130-140 beats per minute.
There is no one target heart rate that’s ideal for every pregnant woman.
Myth: Exercise leads to dangerous overheating and dehydration.
It is true that overheating is dangerous for a baby’s development, especially in the first trimester. However, pregnant women simply need to star hydrated and take a few basic precautions.
Myth: Lifting weights is dangerous for both mother and fetus.
Research shows that stronger moms have shorter labors, less chance of preterm labor, few complications and shorter hospital stays.
Myth: Pregnant women shouldn’t start working out if they weren’t previously engaged in an exercise program.
A healthy woman may continue with her regular exercise regimen or begin a new program during pregnancy, with proper modifications. In fact, a recent study found that exercise during pregnancy may program a baby’s heart to resist cardiovascular problems later in life, because blood vessels will be stronger.