Breathe Effortlessly

Optimize your performance and prevent computer-related injuries with
Healthy Computing Email Tips. Each week we provide hints to help you stay
healthier while working.


The moment most people begin keyboarding or mousing they increase their
breathing rate. While working at the computer, adults’ breathing
rate increases by 30% to 18 breaths per minute, while the breathing rate
of young boys playing computer games increases by 68% to 25 breaths per
minute. This rapid breathing often contributes to sub-clinical
hyperventilation, increased neck and shoulder tension and general fatigue.
Learn to relax and regenerate when you BREATHE EFFORTLESSLY.

How to Breath Effortlessly

Begin by observing your breathing rhythm and movement as you sit quietly
and while you work. Sense whether you have more movement in your chest or
in your abdomen. Most adults tend to breathe faster and higher in their
chest as they work at the computer, which can lead to gasping, sighing,
tiredness and shoulder/neck tension.

To breathe effortlessly, slow your breathing rate and lower the location
of the movement. Imagine that your lungs are like a balloon located in
your abdomen. When you inhale, allow the balloon to expand and when you
exhale allow it to contract. As you practice this breathing remember to:

  • Loosen your belt so that your abdomen can expand
  • Exhale very quietly with a slight smile
  • Whisper “Haaaah” very softly as you exhale
  • Allow the exhalation time to be twice as long as the inhalation time
  • Focus on exhalation and forget about inhalation
  • Imagine exhaling the air down and through your arms, wrist and hands and out your fingers

Practice this slower breathing many times at the computer. Observe
yourself while working and purposely exhale slower and as you inhale, feel
your abdomen expand.

OPTIONAL: Breathe and Regenerate

At home, practice breathing while reclining. Lie on your back with a
pillow under your knees and with your feet shoulder width apart; let your
hands rest palms up about 6 to 12 inches from your sides. Place a 3 to 5
pound weight on your stomach (a bag of rice or beans works well)
and then, as you inhale push the weight up and away from you as your
abdomen expands. During exhalation allow the weight to push your abdomen
downward as the air flows out. As you continue to breathe allow the
exhalation to go slower and slower and gently focus your attention to the
sensations of movement in your abdomen. If your attention drifts, bring
it. Continue this for 20 minutes.

Avatar Written by Erik Peper PhD

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