Dizzy from Breath-Holding During Workouts?

Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA

Dear Fun and Fit: Wassup frequin* twinsies!!  I have a question that I think you may have answered before but I can’t remember.  Sometimes when I’m working out doing weights or Pilates or any manner of things that require concentration on form and posture, rather than breathe regularly I hold my breath.  Because of the intense concentration and all. Sometimes I think I push too hard and then feel dizzy (probably because of the lack of oxygen to my brain or possibly I caught a glimpse of my own awesomesauce in the mirror and swooned a bit). So my question is how do I make sure I’m breathing properly and CONTINUOUSLY when I’m making this saucy bod even more saucy?  Frequins* 4eva, Lacy, TN

Note from Fun and Fit: * Freqins are freaks who wear sequins. Or twins who frequently wear sequins. While freaking out.

I feel so faint and swoony. Throw some water on me.

Alexandra: We’ve never answered this specific question. Nope. One simple thing you can do with the weights is relax your grip on them. You probably have a death grip, which leads to breath-holding. Release at least one finger (I always tell my students that it can be the middle finger if that makes them remember), and you’ll find you won’t be so tense or tight.
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Pilates is specific about exhaling and inhaling, so your teacher should come over and talk you through it. But…..that’s not what you want to hear right now. You happen to have a bad habit, so you need to park yourself right in front of the mirror and watch yourself. Staring at your tense, tight face will remind you to exhale. If you just can’t remember, stick a lipstick or something like that between your teeth to force your mouth open. The little bits of dry heave drool will remind you to exhale.

Kymberly: Another trick is to talk to yourself throughout each repetition. Exhale with Exertion; Inhale with Release; Exhale with Exertion; Inhale with Release.

Breathe Through That Thing, I Tell You!

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Alexandra: It’s really hard to remember to breathe when you’re on your own; it takes reminders. So you have to somehow train yourself to be your own reminder OR ask the teacher to watch you very closely. When I’m teaching, I wander around class and ask students if they’re breathing when I see breath-holding. They have to exhale in order to answer me. Do you by any chance have a class buddy?

Kymberly: For what it’s worth, breath-holding is super common. Not that you aren’t special and all. But at any given moment when in a class or the gym, we see people forgetting to exhale. If you find it hard to get a teacher, trainer, or friend to remind you to “breeeeaaaaathe” then look around at others. If you see jaw tension, red faces, bulging eyes, raised, tight shoulders, or hear gasping sounds, use those external signs as your own reminder.

If all else fails, invest in a Tentacle Fainting Couch.

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Readers: What trick do you use to remind yourself to inhale and exhale with some semblance of normalcy?

Photo credits: Creative Commons – Camera on autopilot, tigitogs, Smjor

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