Running out of breath in the middle of a workout is normal, here’s why

I I can imagine it now: I was sweating, my heart pounding and my chest tightening as I ran across the linoleum floor of the gymnasium – hyper aware of my classmates dressed in the same cotton blue gym uniform. It was the gym class mile, my most dreaded semester event. I was embarrassed by my running speed (and having to put on that uniform), but one of the most unproductive things I did during that horrible mile? I was trying to minimize how panting and breathless I was.

The thing is, while getting out of breath is quite unpleasant, it’s pretty normal and nothing to be ashamed of. In reality, David Sabgir, MD, a cardiologist practicing in Columbus, OH, founder of Walk with a Doc, and cardiovascular health expert, says shortness of breath is an integral part of exercise. Working out can come with emotional wounds, like running the high school mile or feeling uncertain about how easily you’re running out of steam. Busting myths can be a helpful step towards healing wounds like this. So while there is a stigma attached to being short of breath during workouts – as long as there are no other symptoms present – there is no cause for concern. .

So why are we breathless

When you exercise, you increase your body’s demand for oxygen and produce more carbon dioxide, says Alicia Pate, PhD, cardiologist and professor of anatomy at Ponce University of Health Sciences. To deal with it, your breathing needs to go from about 15 breaths per minute at rest to 40 to 60 breaths per minute during exercise to meet this increased demand. It’s true, breathing a lot more is supposed to happen when you exercise. Dr. Sabgir says that when you produce more carbon dioxide, it’s important to expel it by exhaling (so you can get more oxygen faster).

So not only is shortness of breath nothing to shame, but it’s a useful tool in your arsenal. Dr. Sagbir points out that becoming short of breath or losing breath means your body is reaching a stress point and beyond its usual capacity. Sometimes it just means your body needs to catch up. When you start running to catch a train, for example, you go from zero to 60 out of nowhere, so getting out of breath is really natural, he says. I have the impulse to worry that it will have bigger implications for my overall stamina, but that doesn’t paint that picture at all. When it comes to random reasons you might start running, being short of breath is a fact of life. When it comes to exercise, that’s why warming up is important because it gives your heart and lungs a chance to speed up pumping blood and respond to the exertion your brain expects.

Yes, regular exercise improves endurance. Dr. Sagbir says your lung capacity increases, your heart gets stronger, and blood circulation improves over time. These benefits are fantastic, but you will still be out of breath as your physiology often needs time to catch up with your actions. Honestly, getting out of breath after trying something new or challenging should be a point of pride. (Remember, it’s always good to slow down and catch your breath.)

Are there times when shortness of breath is a concern

If you are concerned about your heart health and want information on signs that something is going on, Dr. Sabgir recommends that you look for symptoms such as dizziness, difficulty breathing, chest pain, or any other unusual symptom. that you usually don’t feel. He encourages individuals to listen to their bodies and trust their instincts, so they can tune in when things aren’t right. And while it’s normal to be short of breath, talking to your doctor is also an important part of a fitness journey. Your provider can give you some insight into the goals to keep in mind, the risks you need to consider, and the activities that might be best for you.

Additionally, Dr. Sagbir encourages beginners and seasoned athletes alike not to try to eat the whole elephant in one bite, i.e. start slow and don’t feel like you have to push yourself to the limit. absolute limit every time you exercise. Instead, Dr. Sagbir says progressive intensity helps you commit to long-term exercise rather than trying something so hard you avoid it altogether. You should also try to keep your pace in order to avoid injury and have a faster recovery period. Not pushing yourself too hard can get you back sooner.

There are so many things I wish I could tell the high school version of myself about fitness and movement. Finding support and normalizing bodily processes can go a long way toward reclaiming our fitness routines (and healing gym class trauma). So whether you’re out of breath or not, slowing down can help you cultivate a relationship with exercise that makes you happy and excited to do it. It’s its own victory, especially if you also have painful training experiences.

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About Mildred B.

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