There’s nothing that makes us feel out of shape quite like being winded after climbing a flight of stairs, being short of breath after walking the dog or just struggling to keep up on a walk. Well, for starters, it’s great that you’re getting up to do those things … but now, how do we stop running out of breath?

Breathlessness is a sign of stress on the body. When we’re being active, the body needs to work harder to meet the increased demands of the activity we’re asking of it. You’ll often hear trainers tell you to “remember to breathe!” when you’re training. That’s because proper breath means more oxygen to your muscles, more energy through ATP and more calories to your system in order for you to get more work done.  It also regulates the heart rate and keeps you focused on something other than the pain of your workout ;) But remembering to breathe is a lot more difficult when you’re having a hard time catching your breath in the first place.

One of the things we hear from a lot of our clients is that they want to be fit or more in shape. When you’ve stopped running out of breath with a task that used to make you feel out of breath, that is one key indicator that you’re making progress toward your goal. We can help you get there! The way we have structured our four pillars and our training is designed to, of course, help you get in better shape so that old tasks that were tough aren’t anymore, but also make sure you are well-rounded in terms of your health.  Read on for more!

So, where to start?

Functional Training

The prime difference between someone in and out of shape is endurance and heart rate recovery. This is the time it takes for your heart rate to go from high to low as, ideally, we want the heart to recover quickly.  A heart that recovers quickly is one that is “fit.”

A lot of people don’t view Functional Training as a way to increase endurance because it seems to focus more on general movements and technique, but with our method and how we organize our exercises, (what we call “tri-plexes”) our Functional Training sessions mimic a lot of the structure of HIIT or high-intensity interval training. HIIT is the most impactful physical effort you can make to improve your heart rate. We use load-bearing and mobility exercises to increase your cardiovascular endurance while increasing strength, lean muscle mass and movement capability, and improving your heart health.

One thing most people are surprised about when they start training with us is that they don’t actually know how to breathe. We often learn through our assessments that a joint (or multiple joints) don’t move the way they should which seems like an obvious observation, but with our analysis of movement and our joints and muscle tissues - the breath is something we are looking for too and it is something that we coach throughout our programming.  You may be out of breath because you simply don’t have control over the breath or don’t know how to breathe properly - your endurance may be just fine! We see if that is the case through our evaluations.

Nutrition

It might not sound intuitive but what you’re putting in your body can affect your breathing. Anything that creates extra mucus, inflammation or bloating in the body will make it harder to breathe. Being aware of and staying away from any food allergies or intolerances is a way to increase the capacity of our breath.

In The EPIC Life Formula, we recommend having 4 cups of healthy fats, fibres, and greens every day. Foods such as high fish high in omega-3s, broccoli, beans, and berries have all been connected to improving lung health. It also helps to ensure you are drinking enough water as dry lungs are more prone to irritation. Finally, getting in your probiotics has been linked to a decreased risk of upper respiratory infections- which is among the most common health problems people face!

Nature

We’ve said time and time again that the science linking nature to positive health benefits is undeniable. Exposure to green space has been proven to improve the immune system. One theory for this is that when we are in nature we are in a relaxed state that recognizes tranquility and peace. In other words, it feels safe. In this state, the body can redirect resources to the immune system.

Even in the winter, it’s important to get outdoors. Yes, we understand how cold it is but the cold can actually be good for you! Being in the cold can actually help you strengthen your circulatory muscles, kick your metabolism into high gear- one study even found that being in the cold had started to reverse the symptoms of diabetes!

Self-Care

Meditation is all about clearing your mind but it is also about focusing on the breath. Breathing properly is an important part of any meditation practice as it helps to bring you into that relaxed state. Some forms of meditation focus solely on the breath to focus your mind and keep it from wandering! Activities like meditation and yoga help us learn how to breathe by emphasizing the importance of a deep inhale and slow exhale.

At EPIC, we also recommend, what we call, 30 State-Changing Breaths. If you’ve woken up in a bad mood or find yourself in a position where you need to refocus and change your mentality, this breathing technique is a must. You can start sitting cross-legged with a straight back and your hands on your knees palms up. You want to take a deeeeep breath filling your lungs and then breathe out. The next breath you want to breathe in fully again and breathe out entirely until you can’t possibly push air out anymore. Repeat that 30 times!

There are other breathing techniques you can try to calm your mind and recentre your mindset:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cg4tesvqhV8

Stop running out of breath. It can be something as simple as that that helps to motivate you in your wellness journey! Sign up for The EPIC Life Assessment with a trainer on our team for more info on how you can breathe better and consequently be more fit.