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How Breathing Exercises Promote Heart & Brain Health

Breathing is often taken for granted as an automatic, unconscious bodily function. Unless engaged in moderate to strenuous physical activity, the majority of people never take deep breaths. However, if seniors practice taking control over their breathing and perform certain exercises, they can boost both their cardiovascular and cognitive health. 

Deep Breathing and Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular health depends on the oxygen levels carried by the blood. When practicing breathing exercises, the blood receives increased amounts of oxygen, which then benefits heart and blood vessel cells. The heart does not have to work as hard to pump blood to the lungs for oxygenation, which lowers the heart rate. When the heart pumps more efficiently, the facial and lower leg edema often associated with congestive heart failure reverses. Deep breathing can also correct abnormal heart rhythms, including tachycardia. 

Blood pressure decreases because blood does not move forcefully through the vessels to receive and deliver oxygen. Controlled, slow, deep breathing has been proven to reduce hypertension in seniors. Along with widening peripheral blood vessels, good breathing techniques also affect the coronary arteries and reduce the number of angina episodes. 

Consider hiring a professional caregiver if your loved one needs assistance with exercise. Albuquerque, New Mexico, home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.

Deep Breathing and Brain Health 

People who meditate on a regular basis master the art of controlled breathing. Studies of meditative individuals indicate the abundance of oxygen and nutrients traveling to the brain can enhance the size of the brain. The regions of the brain regulating attention span and sensory processing are benefited the most. These findings are especially important to older adults because the gray matter in these areas typically decreases in size as people age. 

Older adults are more likely to perform physical activities and breathing exercises if they have a trusted caregiver to motivate them. For many seniors in Albuquerque, New Mexico, live-in care is an essential component of aging in place safely and comfortably. However, it’s important for them to have caregivers they can trust and rely on. At Home Care Assistance, we extensively screen all of our live-in and 24-hour caregivers and only hire those who have experience in the senior home care industry. Our strict requirements ensure seniors can remain in the comfort of home with a reduced risk of injury or serious illness.

Controlled Breathing Exercises

The foundation of deep breathing techniques involves three components. 

  • Breathing deeply through the nose while ensuring the abdomen expands
  • Holding the inhaled breath for a count of at least 5
  • Exhaling slowly through the mouth for a count of 10

Breathing exercises are most effective when in a lying position. Put a pillow under your loved one’s knees for support as needed. One hand should be on the upper chest and the other on the upper abdomen just below the rib cage. When inhaling deeply through the nose, your loved one should feel his or her abdomen rise beneath the hand. However, the chest should not expand. Your loved one should exhale slowly through the mouth and feel the abdomen slowly fall.  

Seniors should practice deep breathing for a few minutes daily. Once they master the technique, they can increase the time of the exercise to 10 minutes, then to 20 minutes. Eventually, they can accomplish deep breathing while sitting upright in a chair.

Encourage your senior loved one to try these breathing exercises so he or she can stay active and independent for longer. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Albuquerque, New Mexico, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. Call us at 505-798-0800 to schedule a free in-home consultation.