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How Does Deep Breathing Help You Lose Weight?

author image Lorraine Shea
Lorraine Shea writes about yoga, fitness, nutrition, healing, philosophy, art, decorating and travel for magazines and websites including Fit Yoga, Pilates Style and Country Accents. She teaches Anusara-style yoga and specializes in breath technique, active relaxation and therapeutics. She has a B.A. in English from New York University.
How Does Deep Breathing Help You Lose Weight?
How Does Deep Breathing Help You Lose Weight? Photo Credit pilates-breathing stretching image by Leticia Wilson from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

The idea of losing weight might bring to mind eating a limited intake of calories and sweating through a daily vigorous exercise routine, but deep breathing offers help, too. According to a study conducted by Anand B. Shetty at Hampton University in Virginia, the deep-breathing techniques of yoga can change the brain's metabolic activity and decrease body mass index in obese teens.


Deep breathing provides your body's cells with oxygen, which helps you absorb nutrients. It also stimulates your lymphatic system to get rid of toxins. If your breath is shallow, also known as chest breathing, your cells are receiving less nutrients and your lymph system may be more sluggish, both of which may lead to weight gain, according to the study.


Breathing deeply helps support your central nervous system. Physician, yoga instructor and acupuncturist Baxter Bell suggests that the deep breathing techniques done in gentle or restorative yoga may help you lose weight by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system counteracts stress by calming your mind and balancing your body. By slowing your metabolism, it aids in digestion, which can help you lose weight. On the other hand, too much stress may cause more rapid, shallow breathing, a quicker heartbeat and tight muscles, which may cause anxiety and less ability to quell cravings.

Expert Insight

According to Dennis Lewis, author of "Tao of Breathing," mindful breathing can definitely help a weight-loss program. However, he discourages any kind of forced exercise specifically designed for losing weight because of possible physical, psychological or spiritual impairment. Lewis recommends instead breathing naturally, exercising sufficiently and eating a balanced diet as the best way to lose weight.


Breathing through your nose rather than your mouth helps you better activate your parasympathetic nervous system, according to Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP. A full exhalation helps you empty your lungs completely so that you can inhale more fully. Pick recommends a simple deep-breathing exercise. Sit comfortably, rest your hands on your knees and relax your shoulders. Begin with a slow exhale as you count to five. Pause for two counts, then inhale as you count to five. Notice your belly expand. Repeat this cycle five to 10 more times. The challenge will be to maintain awareness of your breath.


Breathing is something you are always doing, whether you are paying attention to it or not. By becoming more mindful of your breath, you can vastly improve your outlook and make choices that help you stay healthy and maintain your ideal weight.

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