It appears ridiculously simple: Inhale, exhale.
It’s an action most of our bodies undertake as many as 20,000 times per day. But when was the last time you consciously focused on your breathing and truly thought about this vital function that your body just performs, without effort?
Breathing, because it’s so natural and passive, is something many people take for granted, but NFL Quarterback Kirk Cousins says proper deep breathing and learning to maximize every breath is every athlete’s secret weapon.
“Proper breathing is widely overlooked and really not talked about all that often with young athletes,” Cousins said. “But taking control of your breathing is one of the simplest things you can learn to do to transform your health and athletic performance.”
When we’re babies, our bellies rise and fall with each breath we take — that’s good! However, over time, most of us develop bad breathing habits. Whether from sucking in our guts or slouching or just trying to keep up with other active kids, we become shallow chest breathers, rather than deep belly breathers. Breathing from your diaphragm, known as diaphragmatic breathing, has so many benefits and can help regulate your heart and breathing rates. The ideal resting breathing rate is 6-8 breaths per minute, yet the average teen breathes between 12 and 20 breaths per minute.
Below are Kirk Cousin’s top 4 performance benefits of proper breathing.
1. Proper Breathing Optimizes Oxygen and Blood Flow to the Brain
Being able to “get in the zone” is important as an athlete. Athletes must develop the ability to block out negative and distracting thoughts in order to execute their personal best performances. Learning to breath properly from your diaphragm maximizes the amount of oxygen and blood flowing to the brain, resulting in sharper focus and a clear, calm mind.
Want to read the rest of Kirk's reasons why breathing can be your new secret weapon?