Pulmonary or lung function might be used to predict your general health and how long you will live, according to a study reported in PubMed.gov by the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Buffalo, New York.
It is therefore sensible to analyse how you breathe and use your lungs, and consider whether chest breathing, or stomach breathing, uses your lungs optimally in delivering life-giving oxygen to your body.
According to the American Medical Student Association, chest breathing involves using only the top lobes of the lungs. It is inefficient, does not fully engage the lungs, results in less oxygen transfer to the lungs, and poorer nutrient delivery to the body.
Stomach breathing, belly breathing, or abdominal breathing, is also known as diaphragmatic building. The diaphragm is a large muscle between the chest and stomach. According to American Medical Student Association, when the diaphragm is contracted, it is forced downward, causing your stomach to expand. The resultant pressure forces air into your lungs, engaging lower, middle and upper lobes.
You can test whether you are a chest breather or stomach breather. Place your right hand on your chest, and your left hand on your stomach and breathe normally. If your right hand rise more, you are a chest breather, and if your left hand rises more, you are a stomach breather.
According to Dr. Rodger Niemi of the Renaissance Chiropractic Centre, people with high levels of stress and anxiety tend to breath through the chest. Shallow breathing through the chest disrupts the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide necessary for a relaxed state, and intensifies your feeling of anxiety. According to the University of Missouri, shallow chest breathing and the ageing process may cause a 20 percent reduction in oxygen blood levels. This limits energy levels and affects mental alertness.
Learn complete breathing by sitting upright, and exhaling until no air is left in your lungs. Inhale and relax your stomach muscles. Your stomach will expand like it is filling with air. When your stomach stops expanding, keep inhaling, pull air into the middle of your chest and feel your chest and rib cage expand. Hold your breath momentarily, then exhale slowly. As you exhale, relax your chest and rib-cage, and pull your stomach in to force out remaining air. Close your eyes, relax completely, focus on your breathing technique, and continue the exercise for about five minutes. Complete breathing involves stomach breathing, and full chest breathing, and engages all portions of your lungs, oxygenating your blood, and expelling carbon dioxide, and waste products from your blood and body.