Does it feel like your lungs are on fire during a hard workout? Trouble controlling your breath can make exercise feel uncomfortable. Don’t be discouraged by unmanageable huffing and puffing. Try these tips and breathe easier, even when you break a sweat.

Take a deep breath
Deep breathing helps you get the oxygen you need into your lungs, and eventually your bloodstream. Better oxygenated blood helps you more easily get oxygen into your muscles so you have more energy to complete even the most challenging fitness routine.

Practice makes perfect
In an article titled, Breathing tips for new runners, Thad McLaurin recommends matching your breathing pattern, inhalations and exhalations, with your stride. He advises practicing so that you learn to take two to four strides for each inhalation and exhalation. To practice, start with walking. Take a deep belly breath and pay attention to your breathing as you stride. Breathe deeply and count strides, you can speed it up as you get the hang of it. When you notice shallow breathing, recognize that you probably aren’t getting in as much oxygen as you need. Slow down, recover your breathing technique and keep at it.

person-1281607_640Focus on form
Try to keep your spine erect during your fitness activity. It is more difficult for the body to transport oxygen to the lungs with a slumped spine.

What about weightlifters?
To manage breath and oxygen, always exhale on exertion. So that means when you are lifting weights you exhale on the lift and inhale as you bring the weight back to the starting position. When you are doing a pullup, you should exhale as you pull up and inhale on the way down. According to former Navy Seal fitness trainer, Stew Smith, breathing during exertion is important for preventing internal injury such as hernia, blood vessel strain, and high blood pressure.

During Plyometrics
According to Women’s Health, during plyometrics it is best to briefly hold your breath to help stabilize your body during explosive moves. For example, “Imagine that you are doing a jump to box…. hold your breath when you make contact with the floor so that your body is more rigid, which will help with the rebound.”

Strengthen your core
Exercises, such as Pilates, can help you strengthen your core and become a better breather. Breathing allows you to get oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. You will significantly improve your performance, energy and stamina when you improve your breathing.