Maintaining a healthy weight gets harder and harder as we get older — sometimes it feels like our metabolism just shut down on us. It’s true that after a certain point, it becomes more difficult to our keep the metabolic rate up. Hence why we can’t just eat whatever and stay thin like we did in our 20s. However, science suggests that something as simple as changing the way you breathe could switch on fat-burning — and you don’t even have to break a sweat.
In a 2018 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, a method called diaphragmatic breathing showed promising results for raising the resting metabolism of healthy adults. It concluded that diaphragmatic breathing increased both the participants total oxygen intake and metabolic rate. So how exactly does it work?
Diaphragmatic breathing is a process in which you activate the muscles of the diaphragm — the large, dome-shaped muscle that sits beneath the rib cage — during deep breathing. While it may seem like it doesn’t really do much, breathing into the diaphragm actually uses a bit of energy. Not to mention, increasing your oxygen intake helps to rejuvenate your cells and wake up the body. This allows your systems and organs to function to their best ability, which could also be why metabolism is positively affected as well.
To practice diaphragmatic breathing, you can either lay flat on the ground or sit or stand up tall with your spine neutral. Placing your hands just under the rib cage, inhale deeply through your nose, feel the air expand your belly and the rib cage as much as possible. While inhaling, be sure to keep your shoulders and chest down and relaxed (i.e. do not strain to intake too much oxygen). On the exhale, let the air out slowly through your nose while you actively drawing your belly up and in towards your spine by activating the abdominal muscles. Practice this breath for at least 10 minutes and enjoy the benefits of increased energy levels, a faster metabolism, easier weight loss, and even natural stress relief!
For some additional instruction on the practice of breathing diaphragmatically, check out the video below.