Proper breathing is important |

Proper breathing is important

Driving around Lake Tahoe this past weekend, people could be seen everywhere enjoying the ideal Indian Summer conditions. You could hardly tell that six-plus inches of snow had fallen at the upper elevations just three days before.

Yes, ski season is not far away. Are you ready to get started?

As a follow-up to last week’s suggestion to compile a preseason conditioning checklist, are there any areas you need to work on to prepare yourself physically for the coming winter season?

Many of you already follow some sort of exercise regimen throughout the year ” running, cycling, swimming, hiking, slow-pitch softball, or whatever. If so, congratulations, that’s a good start. If you’ve basically been inactive since the end of last winter and looking for a way to develop some general conditioning, you might want to start by thinking cardio.

First, it would be advisable to consult a physician to make sure you’re ready to undertake a physical conditioning program.

Second, don’t start too fast. The last thing you want is to end up with some sort of injury that will set you back even further and might even linger. The objective should be to build a foundation that that you can build on throughout the season.

A good tip is to think in terms of the amount of time you are able to put into a workout because the more time you are able to invest, the better your returns will be. At this point and time, you will be better served by a 30- or 60-minute aerobic workout than if you go out and try to blast yourself through a 15- or 30-minute session.

A good gauge is breathing. If your workout is leaving you short of breath, that is a sign to slow down. For example, if you’re a jogger, bring along a companion so you have someone to talk to. Ideally, you will be able to carry on a conversation while on the run. And, during the course of your conversation, you may discover the time of your workout will fly by a lot faster.

One tip for anyone who has trouble catching their breath ” and that can be a challenge at 6,000 feet ” is to focus on the quality of your breathing. Do you find yourself breathing fast and taking shallow breaths? Try to slow down your breathing and concentrate on filling the lungs with air. Your body needs that oxygen, make sure it gets an ample supply.

At the same time, don’t forget to exhale. If you don’t exhale properly, that air can get trapped. You ever have problems with side cramps ” or stitches ” when you’re running? Sometimes you can work your way through those with a few cleansing breaths. If that doesn’t work, simply stop and walk until the stitch subsides and you feel comfortable again.

Don’t get caught up in the “no pain, no gain” mindset. Remember, this is supposed to be fun. The more fun it is, the more you’ll want to do it. And the more you do it, the better off you’ll be.

It’s sort of like a snowball effect, and if all goes well, you are snowballing yourself toward a good winter season.

Dave Price is a longtime resident of the Lake Tahoe area, a runner and fitness enthusiast who writes sports for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.

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