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Breakthrough Fitness

How To Breathe When Running or Exercising

Breathing is something that comes naturally to most living creatures. We breathe without thinking.

So why is it important to maintain proper breathing while working out? Can’t you just…breathe?

Breathing supplies essential oxygen to our bodies (think of it as food for your muscles). When a person is working out, they are stressing their muscles and pushing them to do things that are out of the norm. When this happens, muscles can be starved for nutrients and that is where proper breathing can help.

When you adopt calculated breathing techniques, it will help your muscles become stronger, function better, and help to eliminate injury risk.

Read on for some tips on how to breathe while running, lifting weights, or doing cardio so your muscles can perform at optimal levels.


How to Breathe When Running or Exercising

Practice makes perfect and breathing techniques are no different. Practicing these techniques prior to working out will ensure that it feels like second nature when you do hit the gym (that way, you can stay focused on your form)

We know it sounds a bit strange to practice breathing but trust us, breathing properly is just about as important as your workout routine itself.

stamped letters spelling "breathe"

Breathing Exercises

People generally slouch or have poor posture when sitting. When a person has poor posture they cannot take in full breaths.

Try sitting with your back straight up against a wall and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try imagining the air filling your lungs and supplying your body with air. Then breathe out slowly through your mouth.

How do you feel?

Not only do breathing exercises help your body but they can help your mind too. Efficient breathing can help relieve stress!

Now that you know breathing is important, how do you implement it during exercise? Well, that depends on what you’re doing! Different exercises have different levels of exertion, thus ideal different breathing techniques.

A good rule of thumb is to take a deep breath in through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Occasionally that isn’t possible (for instance if you have a cold) and that is ok! As long as you’re consciously making the effort to take deep breaths, you’ll be supplying your muscles with good ol’ O2.


Working Out

Learning how to breathe when running is different from learning how to breathe while doing yoga, lifting weights, or anything else.

Most people have a few favorites they rotate through on workout days. Brush up on the best breathing techniques for each one.

The following information is not medical advice (in fact we always recommend consulting with your physician prior to beginning new exercise routines) but there are some tricks to teach you how to breathe while exercising.

The No-No

Unfortunately people tend to hold their breath when they’re working out. This is a big no-no. Holding your breath during exercise can cause muscle strain, slipped discs, and hernias! It also makes your body hang on to excess CO2 which causes your body to fatigue faster.

Yoga and proper breathing go hand in hand.


Yoga and breathing go hand in hand and both poses and breathing are equally important. The breathing you’ll do with yoga is controlled with long inhales as you open your chest and body, and exhales as you compress the body.

It’s also common in yoga to suspend your breathing for a few seconds. It’s important to keep your body still during this special breathing routine.

Running (and Other Aerobics)

Running is an aerobic exercise and gets your heart pumping much faster. The important thing to remember is not to take shallow breaths and that consistency with your breathing is key.

The right breathing technique while running can make a lot of difference.

We know that it’s easier said than done when you’re winded from running, but shallow, short breaths will not fill your lungs well enough to supply the body with oxygen. Most runners prefer the in-out-out strategy to breathing. In other words, breathe in once and exhale twice. It will feel abnormal at first but soon you’ll be breathing like a pro.

Strength Training

Strength training is where we see the most people holding their breath to give themselves an extra ‘push’ for lifting. Do not do this!

Optimal breathing for lifting weights follows an “inhale when lifting/exhale when releasing” technique. It is vital to strength training that your muscles receive that needed oxygen.

Cold Weather

Not only can cold weather trigger an asthma attack, but it’s uncomfortable for everyone to breathe that brisk air.

A good trick to keep your nasal passages humid is to wear a scarf around your mouth and nose. This will trap moisture in and not dry out those nasal passages.


If you’re prone to pesky allergies you can buy a pollen mask! The masks (KN95) will likely look familiar to you. The good news is that, in addition to protecting you against Covid-19, it also filters out pollen and dust.

If your pollen allergy is particularly bad, make sure to wash your hair and clothes immediately when you get home and use a Neti Pot. This will wash away those particles so you don’t start sneezing!



Knowing how to breathe when running, doing yoga, or any exercise is just as important as working out. It is vital to the health and healing of our bodies.

While inadequate breathing can lead to injuries, adequate breathing can help the body feel better and get stronger. Whether you’re just learning or an old hat, we hope that this breathing guide will help you optimize your performance.

At Breakthrough Fitness, we tailor a workout program to suit your individual needs. That includes breathing techniques to make sure you get the results you want and don’t get injured! Contact us today so we can figure out a program that will help you to achieve your goals.