Hiking is one of the most satisfying outdoor activities since it allows you to explore new locations, test your physical limits, and immerse yourself in nature. However, hiking can also be quite challenging, particularly if you are not properly prepared. One of the most important aspects of hiking is proper breathing techniques. Without proper breathing, you will likely become fatigued faster, and you will miss the beauty and serenity of your surroundings. Therefore, in this article, we will delve deeper into the best breathing techniques for hiking.
We will cover hiking breathing techniques, which can help you maintain a steady rhythm while you are hiking. We will also explore how to adjust your breathing based on the terrain, altitude, and weather conditions and how to use breathing exercises to reduce stress and anxiety on the trail. Therefore, learning these breathing techniques can make your next hike more enjoyable and rewarding, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker. So, let us lace up our boots and hit the trail while learning how to breathe like a pro.
Lung capacity is a vital component of hiking, and it plays a significant role in determining how much physical exertion you can tolerate while exploring the outdoors. A person with good lung capacity can take in more oxygen and efficiently deliver it to their muscles, allowing them to maintain a steady pace and hike for longer periods without feeling fatigued. On the other hand, a person with poor lung capacity may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue, limiting their ability to enjoy the hike and explore new trails.
It’s crucial to work on improving your lung capacity through regular exercise and breathing techniques, especially if you’re planning to hike at higher altitudes. Altitude sickness can significantly reduce your lung capacity and put you at risk of serious health problems, such as pulmonary edema and cerebral edema. By improving your lung capacity, you can increase your tolerance for physical activity and better enjoy the beauty and serenity of the great outdoors.
Improving your lung capacity is essential for a variety of reasons, particularly for individuals who engage in physical activities like hiking, running, and swimming. By working on your lung capacity, you can increase the amount of oxygen your body can take in and use it more efficiently to fuel your muscles. This, in turn, allows you to engage in physical activities for more extended periods without experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, or other respiratory issues. By improving your lung capacity, you can enhance your overall physical endurance, which can help you lead a healthier lifestyle.
Additionally, having good lung capacity can help you reduce stress and anxiety levels, improve mental clarity, and enhance your overall quality of life. Breathing exercises, such as deep belly breathing, can help regulate your body’s response to stress and reduce tension in your muscles. Moreover, increased oxygen intake can also help your brain function more efficiently, leading to better concentration, memory retention, and overall cognitive performance. Therefore, improving your lung capacity can have a positive impact on your physical and mental well-being, making it an essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle.
Simple breathing exercises can help you increase your lung capacity for hiking and activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System, inducing feelings of relaxation and calmness. This can help you maintain a steady pace on the trails and improve your overall physical endurance. Regular practice of breathing exercises can also reduce stress, anxiety, and muscle tension, leading to better mental clarity and physical relaxation.
By incorporating the best hiking breathing techniques into your everyday routine, you will be able to breathe more efficiently and enjoy your hiking experience more.
To begin this hiking breathing exercise, find a comfortable seat, either upright or reclined and close your eyes. Inhale slowly for a count of four or five, hold for three seconds (gradually work up to five seconds with repeated practice), and exhale slowly and steadily, emptying your lungs completely. As you exhale, draw your belly inwards towards your spine, which will help you exhale more completely. Repeat this exercise about eight times for optimal results.
This simple yet effective technique can help improve your breathing patterns and enhance your lung capacity, making it a valuable addition to your hiking preparation routine.
Assuming you’re in a comfortable position, shut your eyes and take a deep breath, counting up to three as you inhale. Pause at the top of your breath for three seconds before slowly releasing your breath over a three-second count. Hold your breath again, this time for three seconds at the bottom of your exhale. Repeat this sequence approximately eight times, gradually increasing the length of your holds to four, five, or six seconds.
Besides supporting a better hiking experience, the box breathing technique can also help you refocus on more important things, keep you calm on any adventure, help control hyperventilation, lower your blood pressure, and many more. The more you practice this breathing method, the more health and mental benefits you can gain from incorporating it into your lifestyle.
Alternate nostril breathing, as the name implies, focuses on breathing through alternate nostrils. The breathing steps start with finding your most comfortable seat and position. Close your eyes to focus on the steps and feel your breath more. Cover your left nostril with one finger; you can use any finger as long as you won’t experience trouble with the whole breathing process. Once your left nostril is covered, inhale for a count of six. If you feel that you already inhale enough, pinch both of your nostrils and hold your breath for about three seconds or longer.
Then, alternate your breath. Close your right nostril using your thumb finger this time. While doing that, exhale out of your left nostril for about five seconds. Inhale again with the left nostril, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale through your right nostril. Continue the breathing cycle for a total of 10 times while practicing extending the length of your inhales, exhales, and holds. You can start with spending at least six seconds inhaling, exhaling, and holding your breath until you achieve spending around 40 seconds on each cycle.
When you have finished the 10 cycles of this breathing technique, sit with your eyes closed and take at least three full rounds of breath. Then, start breathing normally. You can notice that it can help with improving your lung function and respiratory endurance.
Compared to other hiking breathing techniques, Wim Hof breathing requires force in the manipulation of the breathing. In a seated position, start by inhaling deeply through the nose or mouth. Since you will be breathing deeply, you can expect your belly and chest to expand as being full of air. Then, exhale unforced through the mouth. That completes one cycle. Repeat that about 30-40 times in short, powerful bursts. Keep in mind that during your last inhalation, you should inhale as deeply as you can, then let the air out and stop breathing.
You should hold your breath until you feel the strong urge to breathe again. As you inhale again, draw one big breath, hold for 15 seconds, and exhale. Repeat the entire sequence about 3-4 times to fully experience the benefits it can offer. Some of those benefits include help with faster recovery from physical exertion, more focus and mental clarity, improved sports performance, enhanced creativity, and improved sleep.
Numerous studies have proven that the diaphragmatic breathing technique can help with better lung capacity. That fact suggests that this breathing method can also help improve hiking adventures. Since it targets making use of the diaphragm better, it can treat shortness of breath and build the strength of respiratory muscles. The more exciting part about it is the simple steps to follow.
Start by relaxing your shoulders as you lie down or sit back. Place your hand on your belly while your other hand should be on your chest. Breathe in through your nose for just two seconds. While inhaling, you should pay special attention to the air entering your abdomen and see how your stomach moves. Before you exhale, press on your abdomen as you breathe out slowly through pursed lips. That counts as one cycle that you can repeat as many times as desired or as per your capacity.
Pursed lip breathing is popularly known as the breathing exercise for the lungs. This method is typically done in an attempt to slow breathing. What’s good about this hiking breathing technique is that it is easy to do on your own. Consistent practice can help in improving your lung function over time.
To start, relax your body and breathe in through your nose. Then, purse your lips—it should look like you are about to blow air. Slowly exhale through your lips without any force. Make sure you exhale twice as much of the air you inhaled. Repeat all the said steps as often as desired or per your capacity.
Humming bee breath obviously implies it is a breathing exercise that incorporates humming with the steps. The name says it all to prove that. Like other hiking breathing techniques, this one can also help increase lung function and provide other mental and physical benefits. To try, you should sit up straight with your eyes closed. Give time to feel the sensations in your body together with the quietness within. Then, gently place your index fingers on your ears.
Next, take a deep and powerful breath in. When you breathe out, press down on your ears and hum loudly. You can either press in and out your ears during your humming or press them down the entire time. Then, take another deep breath in. Repeat the whole breathing cycle a few more times for better results.
Rib stretch is among the most popular breathing exercises that help to clear your lungs and improve your lung capacity. This technique is quick to learn and practice. Start with standing up straight and exhale. Breathe to your maximum capacity and hold that for 20 seconds if you can. Simultaneously, put your hands on your hips with your thumbs facing front and your pinkies on the small of your back. Then, exhale slowly. Relax and repeat the cycle three times.
Even though breathing exercises can already help with your hiking experience, you can do other ways to improve your lung capacity and eventually keep up with your hiking expectations.
Definitely, you can crush those long hike adventures if you improve your exercise tolerance, strengthen your muscles, and increase your stamina. To do that, you can fit in workouts that combine cardio and strength training three times a week. The ideal exercises include jumping jacks, squats, lunges, and leg lifts.
Hiking breathing techniques can be made easy if you do stretching. Ideally, a good way to stretch before doing breathwork since the activity releases tightness in different parts of the body. Even simple stretching can do wonders for the body, such as expanding the muscles of your rib cage and diaphragm, which cultivate a greater lung capacity for hiking.
Keeping a good posture—despite the challenges of daily activities—can help with engaging more of your core. Remember that keeping a good posture while doing regular stretching can give the lungs more space to breathe.
Ironically, if you face challenges when hiking, that’s a great reason to hike more. While saying consistency is the key sounds like a cliché solution, hiking more often can build up more endurance and greater lung capacity on a hike. Don’t be intimidated because you can become more accustomed to hiking adventures by doing that, along with practicing the best breathing techniques for hiking.
Hiking at high altitudes can make you feel out of the air, and your lungs experience more difficulty in taking in oxygen. Hence, you should learn and incorporate the best hiking breathing techniques to combat those challenges. Learning how to breathe better and preparing your lungs for hiking challenges can do wonders and let you enjoy more of your long hikes. If you want that, you must learn from a reliable breathwork professional to have the best and safest experience.
Regina is the right breathwork professional you can trust to help you experience the power of breathwork and move on to incorporating it with yoga and other beneficial activities. Interested in experiencing breathwork with Regina? Regina offers two virtual breathwork sessions per month, which are easily accessible from anywhere in the world. Check out and join us for a session!