Participating in high energy sports require the body to need and use more oxygen as the heart beats faster and blood circulates rapidly. Yet your lungs are only equipped to take in so much with each breath. And when you are exposed to the cold, their capacity decreases. There are however techniques you can practice that will make your lungs, and you, better equipped for the endurance needed to complete a dog sled race, hockey tournament or any other of the winter sports you love.
Start by pushing out. Start with feet flat on the ground and bend over at the waist. Exhale as much air as possible and then slowly stand, inhaling at the same time. Once you feel like your lungs are full, hold that breath for 20 seconds before slowly exhaling. Do this for four times once a day to build on lung muscle strength.
Another method involves inhaling 3 short times through the nose without exhaling. Inhale once more, raising your arms to shoulder level at the same time. Inhale again while opening your arms wide, and one last time while raising them overhead. As you slowly exhale, circle the arms through the same positions until they are back by your side. This should be done 10 times daily.
Lying on your back, place one hand on your chest and another on your stomach. When you breathe in deep you will feel a pull in your stomach. The hand on your stomach should be higher than the one on your chest. Now exhale and then breathe in again, holding it for 8 seconds. Repeat this, squeezing your stomach muscles at the end to make sure all of the air has been released.
Sign up for online singing lessons. Singing builds the diaphragm muscle, which is essential for lung function. When you learn to sing online, you will also be learning how to control your breaths and build your lung capacity. Music is a great form of help in this case.
Exercise at higher elevations. Since there is less oxygen in the air when you are in a higher area, your body will be forced into increasing the capacity of the lungs. This can be hard on the body at first, but will provide great benefit. Studies show an increase in red blood cells in athletes who work out at a higher elevation.
Always try to be conscious of your breathing and breathe in as deeply as possible. This means always exhaling completely before taking a new breath in. If you practice this continuously, eventually it will become natural for you.
Athletes of all types have learned that breathing techniques will help with overall performance. For winter sport athletes, this may be even more important to achieve. Practice your techniques daily and you should see an overall improvement in your breathing and sporting abilities.