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The Benefits of Deep Breathing

The Benefits of Deep Breathing

In To Have and Have Not, Marie (Lauren Bacall) asks Harry (Humphrey Bogart), “You know how to whistle don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.” A career was launched and Bogart—and millions of other guys—were left speechless. That’s just how powerful taking a deep breath and then exhaling purposefully can be.

When you breathe in your lungs fill with oxygen, nitrogen and water vapor, along with a smidgen of argon. Oxygen passes from your lungs into your blood and (via the heart) to all the tissues in your body. Sensors in your brain, the carotid artery and the aorta detect your blood’s carbon dioxide and oxygen levels and adjust your breathing rate as needed. Without thinking about it, you breathe 17,000-23,000 times a day!

But if you become aware of your breathing—and practice deep breathing techniques—you can reduce your stress response, promote better sleep and boost your immune strength. Start by practicing this routine, an essential part of the super-repair system that Dr. Mike explains in his new book This Is YOUR Do-Over:

  • Lie on your back on a firm surface. Counting to five, inhale slowly and let your torso expand and your bellybutton move away from your spine, as you fill your lungs from the bottom to the top. Then, exhale slowly, counting to seven. That's one.
  • Take 10 deep breaths every morning, 10 every night or as many as you need to keep you whistling.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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