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How does breathing work?

Whether through the nose or the mouth, we could not survive without breathing and without the oxygen we take in. However, breathing consists of more than just inhaling and exhaling, which we perceive more or less consciously depending on the situation.

We breathe in and out about six litres of air per minute. This air flows past the larynx and vocal cords via the trachea into the lungs, where the vital exchange of gases takes place in the bronchi and alveoli (air sacs). The oxygen that enters the lungs with the air is absorbed by the blood. In return, we release the carbon dioxide produced in the body when we exhale. In this way, a total of 500 litres of oxygen are transported to the cells via the blood every day.

Breathing is a sophisticated collaboration between very different muscles and muscle groups. By tensing, our most important breathing muscle, the diaphragm, together with the intercostal muscles, ensures that the chest can lift. This gives the lungs enough room to expand upwards and forwards. At the same time - with correct, so-called abdominal breathing - the diaphragm contracts and makes room for the lungs at the bottom. As soon as the breathing muscles relax again, the used air can be exhaled in a relaxed manner.

Outer breathing, inner breathing?

In biology, a distinction is made between external and internal respiration. External respiration refers to the process that takes place during lung respiration, i.e. the exchange of gases. External respiration, by the way, is not only specific to humans, but to all mammals, fish (via the gills) and insects (via the trachea). Internal respiration describes the biochemical process of cellular respiration or also the uptake of oxygen in the blood by the cells and the release by the cells of carbon dioxide into the blood.

How do you breathe properly?

As one of the most important bodily functions, breathing is controlled by the brain stem and the autonomic nervous system. Therefore, correct breathing is like a reflex and happens in and of itself in a completely relaxed way. If you are tense, it is more difficult to breathe. Have you ever tried to pay attention to your breathing? If you are tense, uptight or stressed, a feeling of breathlessness tends to set in. You "breathe shallowly, the diaphragm cannot expand, the inhaled air stays up and the body is not supplied with enough oxygen. This is also called high breathing. The consequences of this incorrect breathing are tiredness and lack of concentration and even digestive problems. When you are relaxed or tired, you breathe unconsciously and above all deeply into your belly. This is deep breathing.

Correct breathing can be learned. In some cases, breathing therapy can make sense for the prevention or healing of diseases. In individual cases, these therapies are also covered by health insurance.

Why is posture important for breathing?

Hanging incorrectly and bent over in the chair not only puts strain on the Spinebut also pinches the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. This prevents relaxed and free breathing. In the worst case, this not only causes back problems, but also puts unnecessary strain on the respiratory tract.

The same applies to muscle tension and stress at the workplace: it can sometimes leave you breathless. The right sitting position helps here: sit up straight on a chair with your hands loosely on your thighs. If you are sitting well, lower your chin to your chest until you feel a stretch in your neck. Breathe slowly and deeply in and out through the abdomen. As a preventive measure, of course, it helps to use a chair in the office that promotes a straight, relaxed posture, such as the office chairs Swopper, Muvman or 3Dee from Aeris.

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