How To Correctly Breathe When You Exercise

correctly breathe

Breathing is one of the most important elements you can focus on if you’re looking to improve your workouts. Believe it or not, but breathing can have a tremendous impact on your ability to get the most out of each and every workout.

Unfortunately, many people breathe improperly while working out. Not only can poor breathing while working out limit your ability to sustain energy levels throughout the duration of your workouts, but it can inhibit optimal performance.

However, once you learn how to breathe effectively during your workouts, you’ll be able to achieve better results throughout your workouts and give yourself the best chance to sustain energy levels. Highlighted below are some of the top tips to get yourself breathing properly while you exercise, some of the benefits that it can offer you, and how integrating aromatherapy into your workouts might improve your performance.

Tips for Breathing Properly During Exercise

Different Exercises Require Different Breathing Techniques

The way you’re supposed to breathe is going to vary from exercise to exercise. The truth is, there is no single way to breathe that is going to hold true for every exercise. You’ll need to switch up your breathing patterns if you want to breathe properly depending on the type of exercise you are focusing on at the time.1

For instance, running is going to require you to implement a specific breathing pattern and lifting weights would require a different one. While it would be much easier to practice the same breathing technique for each exercise, you want to try to optimize your breathing patterns based on the exercise in order to achieve the best results.

Keep Your Breathing Steady

One of the key elements that you’ll want to focus on in order to breathe properly during exercise is steadiness. By maintaining a consistent breathing pattern, you’ll be better able to handle the exercise that you are doing and will be able to supply your body with a consistent intake of oxygen. You want to maintain the same breathing pattern throughout your single exercise to get the best results from your breathing efforts.

Know Your Body

You want to try to be as aware as possible of your body and its limits while exercising. Your body will give you signals to help you understand whether or not you should be putting forth more intensity or limiting it. By listening to your lungs specifically, you will be able to better gauge your overall intensity and determine whether or not you should be slowing down or speeding up.

Without having this sort of body awareness, you are not likely going to be able to listen to your body as effectively, which can limit your ability to get in the most effective exercises each and every time.

Exhale If You’re Struggling to Catch Your Breath

Many people make the mistake of looking to breathe in when they are struggling to catch their breath. When you find yourself unable to breathe during a workout, it’s actually going to benefit you much more to exhale.

When you are unable to take in more oxygen, it means that your lungs are full of carbon dioxide.2 Because of this, to make room, you must exhale the carbon dioxide. By getting rid of these excess levels, you’ll be able to maximize the amount of oxygen you are able to intake.

Avoid Shallow Breathing

One of the biggest mistakes that people end up making when they are breathing during exercise is shallow breathing. By getting into the habit of shallow breathing during exercise, you’ll end up creating a lack of oxygen which forces the body and muscles to work extra hard. This can result in either injury or a lack of stamina throughout the exercise.

By making a concerted effort to minimize the occurrence of shallow breathing, you should be able to improve your ability to maintain energy levels and stamina throughout your workouts.

Breathing During Warm-Ups

If you are looking to gain or sustain energy prior to exercise, you’re going to want to focus on implementing breathing techniques that have been shown to effectively boost energy levels.

One of the best techniques to implement for better energy levels is deep breathing, which has been shown to be effective for increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood cells and releasing endorphins throughout the body.3

Along with effectively supplying the body with endorphins, it can help reduce the level of inflammation throughout the body, which is a great way to start off an exercise which inherently adds inflammation.4

The lower the inflammatory response during exercise, the lower the chances of sustaining an injury and the better your stamina will be. By implementing deep breathing during warm-ups prior to exercise, you’ll be able to create a surge of oxygen and endorphins throughout your body which can maximize the energy that you have to work with for your workout.

Breathing During Cardio

As noted above, the most important aspect of breathing during exercise breathing consistency. The more consistent your breathing patterns are while you’re running or performing any intense activity, the more oxygenated blood will flow through your body.

For those who are running, it is typically best to stick with a breathing pattern associated with your feet to allow for a consistent and measured input. One of the best ways to do this is by breathing in for every three strides and breathing out for every three strides.

That way, you are able to maintain a certain level of consistency as you run, which can improve your overall stamina. Without this type of breathing consistency while running, you are likely to end up dealing with a build-up of carbon dioxide in your lungs which can decrease your ability to maintain long-distance running stamina.

However, you don’t necessarily have to stick to breathing in and out every three strides. For some, inhaling and exhaling every two strides may be more effective. The important thing is to remain consistent with your inhales and exhales

Breathing During Strength Training

One of the most important elements that you’ll want to focus on when you’re looking to optimize strength training workouts is knowing when to inhale and when to exhale. This is important for getting the most out of your strength training sessions because your breath control can dictate how much weight you are able to lift, how much stability you maintain, and how much you are able to engage every muscle in your body.5

When you’re doing any form of strength training, you’ll want to focus on exhaling during the lift stage and breathing in during the lowering stage. By doing this, you are going to be able to improve the level of muscle engagement in your lifts, which can improve your overall power. Another reason you want to do this is due to the fact that breathing out during the lift can help ensure that your blood pressure doesn’t drop dramatically during the lift.

Cool-Down Breathing

Voluntary Hyperventilation

One of the best breathing techniques that you can use after your workout would be voluntary hyperventilation. By implementing this technique, you’ll be able to increase the levels of oxygen in your body while decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide.6 This alone is going to optimize your body’s natural ability to recover from intense workouts and exercise.

Breathe Through Your Nose

Another breathing technique that you could implement would be deep breaths through your nose. You want to take in deep breaths through your nose because it will help you reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. This will allow you to prevent the constriction of your lungs.

How Can Aromatherapy Help?

Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils in order to reap the health benefits they provide. By using essential oils, you should be able to enhance the positive impact your breathing can have on your body before, during, and after exercise.

For example, some essential oils have been shown to be effective at alleviating the fatigue induced by exercise, including peppermint, rosemary, and sweet orange essential oils.7 This means that these oils would be excellent to use post-workout and during post-workout breathing sessions. By adding these oils to post-workout routines, you should be able to improve your body’s natural ability to recover from intense workouts.

Along with this, some essential oils have been shown to effectively increase the body’s natural heat levels through increasing thermogenesis.8 This will help increase the effectiveness of the workouts because it is going to allow the body to run hotter throughout the workout which can increase caloric burn.

Another way that essential oils can play a critical role in helping the body post-workout is through decreasing stress levels and helping one relax. By getting into a more relaxed state, you’ll be able to achieve better sleep which can improve your overall ability to recover from workouts much faster. One of the most effective essential oils for promoting relaxation and sleep is lavender oil.9

Try using the essential oils discussed above topically after dilution with a carrier oil, in a bath, or aromatically in a room diffuser or personal diffuser like Active or Healthy MONQ.


Your breathing can have a major impact on not only how well you are able to energize prior to exercise, but also how well you maintain stamina during exercise and how well you’re able to recovery post-exercise.

Because of all of this, it’s important to try to implement some of the best breathing practices in order to get the most out of your workouts. By incorporating the right breathing practices and techniques for each type of exercise you do, you should be able to improve your performance.

How well you breathe can play a critical role in determining how efficiently your muscles work throughout each and every exercise. Additionally, by incorporating aromatherapy into your breathing sessions pre-workout, during your workout, and post-workout, you should be able to enhance the impact your breathing can have during each of these phases.

PhotoCredits: fizkes/, kikovic/, CatalinPetolea/, CatalinPetolea/, gpointstudio/

Taylor J.

By Taylor James

Taylor is an aromatherapy enthusiast who’s favorite use of essential oils is through a portable diffuser created by MONQ. In her spare time, you can find her enjoying nature whether it be on a lake or in a forest.

Favorite MONQ blend: Forest

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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