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What Are the Benefits of Deep Breathing for Older Adults?

Deep breathing has many physical and mental health benefits for older adults. For example, it can lower heart rate and blood pressure. It can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also increase energy levels, improve mental focus, and lead to better sleep. Not to mention deep breathing helps get more oxygen to the brain which positively affects all kinds of functions in the body. This is why it’s so important for older adults to practice deep breathing every single day.

Deep breathing is focused and intentional breathing. It’s sometimes referred to as abdominal breathing, belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing. It’s such a simple practice, why do we so often forget to do it? Deep breathing is like a short cut to release stress as well as improve our physical and mental well-being. According to verywellmind.com, “deep slow breaths activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also called the ‘rest and digest’ system. It also activates the vagus nerve, which is like the boss of the parasympathetic nervous system, overseeing things like mood, digestion and heart rate."

When practicing deep breathing, it’s important to engage the diaphragm. This differs from chest breathing which can be shallow. The diaphragm is a muscle sitting just below your rib cage. Draw your awareness to your breathing by placing a hand over your belly and your other hand over your chest. It can be helpful to close your eyes in order to focus on the breath more. As you take a deep breath, you’ll feel your belly expand, and as you exhale, you’ll feel your belly contract. Use your diaphragm to push the air in and out. Take as much air in as you can, and let as much out as you can. Your chest should move minimally. Repeat this several times.

We often overlook the power of deep breathing, but one of the things we love to do at Bridgetown Music Therapy is regularly focus on our breathing. It’s so beneficial! We believe in the power of deep breathing to positively impact the body and mind. Most of the time, older adults just need a reminder to do it and someone to guide them through it. To learn more about Bridgetown Music Therapy and the engaging music programs we offer to both senior care communities and individuals living at home, click here.


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