Choose Breathing for Activities You Want, or Your Breathing will Choose Activities for You


John Paul Ouvrier

I’d like to share with one of the most effective ideas on how to take control of the strength you have, verses what most people do which is waste the strength they have, by taking conscious charge of how you breathe.  Once you understand this idea and start to implement it, you will see many of your peers huffing and puffing, wasting strength.   

 Proper breathing is everywhere in athletics.  In fact no coach would ever train an athlete without a thorough explanation of breathing.  So what do we need to know as non athletes?  Firstly, that athlete or not, every activity demands a certain amount of air.  The harder the activity, the more air, and better the breathing needed to participate.  

 One of the things that happens with older adults who have been in bed for an extended time, or for those who sit daily for hours on end is the nasty habit of shallow breathing.  And why should the body breathe deeply if we’re just sitting and doing nothing?  Multiply the days of nothing, or doing ‘not much’, and what you end up with is a body that has gotten into the habit of breathing shallow.  What happens next is scary:  We end up doing an activity that demands more air than we have, we run out of breath, wrongly assume we are weak, and cease the activity.  This becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; we don’t think we can do, so we do less, and so on. 

 Now certainly there are lung conditions, spinal conditions, inability to participate in strenuous activities conditions, and that of course is between you and your doctor.  However, what no medical professional can do for you is be there to remind you to breathe deeply; you must do this for yourself.  You must cultivate this habit!

 One of the most common complaints I see with older adults when I am walking with them is that they run out of air.  In fact once they sit, they breathe deeply.  When I point this out to them and ask why didn’t they breathe deeply they usually say, “Breathing?  I never thought about it…” And that’s the key right there; becoming conscious of breathing.   

Listen to my words:  Getting older isn’t about harder, it’s about smarter.  Smarter isn’t about using more energy, it’s about economy of the fuel we have.  That starts with breathing.  If you are sitting a lot and have a shallow breathing pattern, don’t expect to not run out of breath when you need to do something demanding.  You won’t be getting the fuel into the tank, and need will exceed supply, and you’ll have to sit to then breathe and refuel.  Can you see the pattern?  Add a couple of things we tend to do as humans such as holding the breath when doing something difficult and holding the breath during times of stress and we end up with a society of people who don’t breathe properly.  There are books on this subject!  In the meantime, this is what the Wizard of Youth can advise you on right now:

Become conscious of your breathing pattern, what do you do or not do throughout the day?

Talk to your doctor about this.  Breathing issues must be dealt with professionally and Wizardly shortcuts do not take the place of this!

Assign numbers to your breathing for practice.  Breathe in deeply for a count of 3 or 4, and then exhale deeply for the same count.  Be sure to sit when you do this, as it’s easy to get dizzy when you first start doing this. Do this 10 times in the morning and in the evening.  With each successive count, try to breathe in a little deeper, essentially forcing the lungs to open up.  (Stretch your arms up and yawn if you can as well.  No, this is not naptime!)

And my favorite, an old ballroom dance trick:  As above, assign numbers to your breathing when you walk, but make the count of your breathings inhalation in time with your steps.  In other words, breathe in deeply for 3 or 4 steps, and then exhale for 3 or 4 steps. (Or less or more, whatever that does NOT make you dizzy, especially while walking).

I was a professional ballroom dancer for a number of years, and we were taught this early on to conserve our energy so we could dance all day.  Those of you who run, or did run will remember these exercise ideas as well.

The simple truth is that our activities are decided upon by our breathings functionality, please take the best control of it, or it will take control of you.  Blessings and Love.


John Paul Ouvrier  is a fitness trainer who specializes in working with older adults.  He is the author of ‘The Wizard of Youth’ series for adults and children, the creator of ‘The Wizard of Youth 4 Kids Board Game’ and the Executive Director of Fitness For Charity.  His websites are: &  He can be reached at


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