During running/exercising, I have sometimes been told by people to breath this way or that way, usually fitness trainers will emphasize this as well.

I am interested in knowing if there is some science behind how to breathe, has anyone evaluated different breathing methods and the short/long term effect of them.

By the way, in my experience I just try to breath normally, i.e. whatever comes naturally at a given moment, but often get agitated when people will tell me how to breath with some authority.

  • 2
    If you need air, breathe. If you need more air, breathe harder/faster. Unless you're swimming, just breathe as you need to.
    – JohnP
    Jun 16, 2015 at 19:30
  • 2
    I just try to breath normally Great advice. No need to look further.
    – rrirower
    Jun 16, 2015 at 19:39
  • My cycling coach would talk about belly breathing a lot.
    – Eric
    Jun 17, 2015 at 0:48
  • No, there is no "correct" way to breathe. Different ways of breathing have different effects. Diaphragmatic vs. chest breathing have been associated with parasympathetic vs. sympathetic nervous system. Breathing also plays a role in trunk stability, via controlling intra-abdominal pressure, and muscles of breathing and muscles of trunk stabilization overlap. I will try to write up a proper answer when I get time. You should not try to consciously alter your breathing pattern while exercising, it is usually distracting and contraproductive (there are exceptions of course).
    – BKE
    Jun 17, 2015 at 16:12
  • Apparently when running breathing out on the right foot or the left foot produces completely different results.
    – jiniyt
    Jun 24, 2015 at 10:51

3 Answers 3


Is there a correct way to breathe?


If you are doing heavy compound movements such as the squats and deadlifts, the valsalva maneuver is used to ensure a tight core so that you protect your lower back and able to power through when doing the movements. With that said, even the valsalva maneuver has its pros and cons.

As for running/jogging, I would go by a tempo of inhale for 2 seconds and and exhale for 3 seconds. Basically, its to control my breathing so that I don't land on my heels and so that I can keep an upright posture.

With all this said, if you are doing any sort of movement, be it lifting weights or doing your cardio, there is no right or wrong method to breathing.


The only specific type of breathing I know is belly breathing, or diaphragmatic. Basically, your diaphragm (and not your chest) should be doing most of the rising and falling to breathe. As a long time asthma sufferer, this form of breathing has been brought up to me since I was a child. A 1992 study states:

Deep diaphragmatic training resulted in significant reductions in medication use and in the intensity of asthmatic symptoms. Importantly, a nearly 300% increase in time spent in physical activities also resulted from deep diaphragmatic training.

Related to exercise, a 2011 study looked at the impact on post exercise recovery of endurance athletes and concluded that there is a benefit.

Overall, these data demonstrate that relaxation induced by DB increases the antioxidant defense status in athletes after exhaustive exercise. These effects correlate with the concomitant decrease in cortisol, which is known to negatively affect antioxidant defenses, and the increase in melatonin, a strong antioxidant. The consequence is a lower level of oxidative stress, which suggests that an appropriate recovery could protect athletes from long-term adverse effects of free radicals.

I've personally had a coach that encouraged belly breathing during physical exercise (bicycle racing). In that sport you often have periods of little jarring, fairly smooth riding, and being able to operate for long periods of time at a rather high power output (without going anaerobic) is key.

Anecdotaly, the other thing I can offer up is that when running I try to time my breaths with my steps, if I'm holding a given pace. It just seems that mechanically there are times in your foot-strike->airbone->foot-strike pattern that are better for intake and exhalation than others.

And the Valsalva method is typically employed for lifting heavy weights. You'd do it naturally: before you pick up a heavy object most people will take a breath, hold it, and lift.


If your query is to know different breathing techniques. Than i would tell you a technique from yoga. You need to sit in a relax mode cross leg. Inhale air from one nose opening and closing the other one. Now release air from other nose opening. Repeat this process alternatively. This will increase your oxygen intake, make you feel relaxed.

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