Take a Deep Breath and…Lose Weight?

You’d think that if something as simple as breathing could help people to lose weight, we’d all be doing a better job of losing weight!  But the simple truth is that the pace of modern life and the multitude of things we think about at all times have relegated breathing to a background task.  We’ve become so stressed and distracted that we don’t breathe deeply or enough.  Surprisingly, this not only has stress relief implications, but it also has implications for how we lose weight.

Stress Disorders and Weight Gain

Stress occurs in the mind and in the body. When we’re stressed out, even if it’s just a low level of stress, our bodies release fight-or-flight hormones which prevent us from relaxing into a more healthy state of mind and body.  Stress relief measures like taking walks, regular exercise or exposing ourselves to nature on a regular basis do a lot to reduce fight-or-flight hormone levels.  Plenty of research has shown that when we’re stressed we tend to hold onto weight, no matter how much we eat and exercise.  And stress disorders are shown to cause weight gain.

This can be explained in fairly simple terms. Consider that if you were stressed a couple thousand years ago it was likely because there were threats to your physical safety.  Humans have typically been stressed out by fear of predators, fear of rivals and/or fear of running out of food.  In all these situations it makes sense to store any energy you can get so you can use it when you need it, whether that’s to escape from an enemy or to go a long time without sufficient food.

Today, these are not our problems, for the most part, but our body’s reaction to stress has stayed the same.  When we’re stressed, fight-or flight-hormones kick in and tell the body not to burn calories as quickly just in case you need extra calories later.

Breathing Deeply

So how does breathing deeply help you lose weight?  Taking deep, relaxed breaths signals a release of tension in the body. It’s a simple signal that tells the body and mind that it’s no longer necessary to be stressed out and release fight-or-flight hormones.  Breathing deeply and calmly is a proven stress relief method and fights stress disorders as well as everyday stress.  So, take deep breaths to lose weight.