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Correct Breathing for Cardio

author image Zoe Glass
Zoe Glass has been writing journalism, essays and fiction since 2001. Her articles have been featured in publications including literary journals "Beatdom" and "Denali," the music magazine "Mixmag" and the London newspaper "Snipe." Glass holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Pennsylvania and is studying for a Master of Letters in writing at the University of Glasgow.
Correct Breathing for Cardio
Two seniors power walking on the beach with good posture. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Correct breathing is fundamental to getting the most out of your exercise routine. Poor breathing technique means your body won’t get the oxygen it needs, which in turn can make you tired, hamper your recovery and stop you getting the results you want. Practicing correct breathing will boost the value of your cardio workout, and it can also help you feel better when you aren’t exercising.


Focus on is maintaining good posture. If you slouch, your body works less efficiently and your lungs cannot open fully. According to “The Everest Principle: How to Achieve the Summit of Your Life,” you should perform cardio such as running with a straight back and head held high. This keeps your muscles correctly aligned, opens your chest and will help improve your lung capacity.

Abdominal Breathing

In abdominal breathing you draw full breaths in through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise naturally, and then contract slightly as you push the air back out. Practice abdominal breathing while seated until it becomes comfortable and natural. Then, during exercise, your body will be accustomed to correct breathing and you will benefit from the greater blood flow and improved oxygen supply to your brain and muscles.

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Nose Breathing

Professional middle distance runner Perry Fields notes that correct breathing during cardio is essential to fitness. She recommends training yourself to breathe through your nose, which filters impurities and warms the air as it enters your body, protecting your lungs from cold air and pollutants. Practice breathing through your nose while doing easy cardio, and work up to nose breathing for all but the most intense workouts.

Thoracic Breathing

“Elle Glam Fitness Complete Cardio” recommends learning thoracic breathing, which is used in Pilates but can also be useful for cardio. Thoracic breathing activates the middle lobes of the lungs and, when done correctly, you should feel your rib cage expand slightly outward as your lungs fill. As with abdominal breathing, it’s a good idea to practice while relaxed -- keeping your hands on your ribs to monitor the movement -- until it feels natural. Like abdominal breathing, thoracic breathing helps get more oxygen to your bloodstream, which boosts your cardio workout.

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