Wellness |

Breathing Exercises to Ease Stress

2 minute read

How do you beat stress?

There are lots of stress-management tools out there, some of them complicated or ineffective. It’s easy to forget that one of the best ways to ease stress and anxiety is through something that’s available to us every single day – breathing.

Left untreated, stress can lead to overwhelming feelings in the moment, and result in health consequences down the road.

So let’s talk about breathing exercises.

Benefits of Breathing Exercises

Here’s why breathing exercises are one of the best short-term strategies for stress relief:

  • You can perform them by yourself, anywhere, anytime. And, if it matters, it’s likely no one will even know you’re doing it.
  • They are free and don’t require any tools or equipment.
  • There are a variety of exercises to choose from and they take very little practice to perfect.
  • Got a few minutes? That’s all the breathing you need for almost immediate relief.

Breathing Exercises to Try Today

While there are many forms of controlled breathing, here are a few of the simplest ones to get you started:

  1. Equal Breaths
    The saying, “what goes in must come out” is quite literal when it comes to this technique. Breathing through your nose, you are going to inhale for four seconds and then exhale for four. You can then increase to a 6- or 8-second count once you’ve gotten the basic rhythm down.
  2. Relaxing Breath
    This exercise is also known as the 4-7-8 technique and focuses on the following breathing pattern that you can repeat up to four times:

    1. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your teeth
    2. Empty your lungs of any air
    3. Inhale for four seconds through your nose
    4. Hold the breath for seven seconds
    5. Forcefully exhale through the mouth for eight seconds

(Note: While the 4-7-8 ratio is very important to the exercise, you can count as quickly or as slowly as you need to during the cycle.)

  1. Visualization Breath
    This one takes a bit of imagination. You can use whatever mental picture you want, but the idea is that as you breathe in through your nose, you will imagine that you’re inhaling peaceful, calming air. Visualize the air filling your entire body, and pushing out all the stress and tension as you exhale. Slowly repeat that cycle until you feel your stress subside.

Breathing Quality Air

With all of this deep breathing, Aprilaire wants to make sure you’re taking in healthy air. That’s our job, after all!

Check out the Healthy Home blueprint. It includes tips and easy changes that can improve the air quality of your home, making it even simpler to deal with stress in a clean, healthy environment.

 

outdoor workouts

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Indoor vs. Outdoor Workouts – Air Quality and Exercise

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Long, sunny days are more inviting than ever following a year-plus spent mostly indoors. Biking, hiking, sports, and trips to the beach are refreshing ways to get in some exercise this summer.

Whether you’re exercising to get in shape, relieve stress, or do something fun with the whole family, it’s important to prioritize a Healthy Air environment for your workout.

Here’s how to ensure optimal air quality while you crush your workout outdoors and indoors.

Outdoor Workouts

We’re all for getting outside as much as possible this summer. But keep in mind that air quality can suffer in the warmer seasons because of increased traffic pollution and pollen counts.

The hottest part of the day is typically from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., so try to do your workout before or after this time slot to avoid heat exhaustion

Check the allergen counts in your area, especially if you have asthma. When they’re high, find a way to work out indoors

Avoid areas with lots of traffic. If you live in a city, it can be hard to find an area away from cars and planes. Search out designated green spaces in your area to avoid the worst sources of pollution

While we appear to have reached a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic, those who are unvaccinated or at high risk of complications may choose to avoid crowded parks or group exercise classes.

Indoor Workouts

Because the outdoor air can be unpredictable, it’s important to have a gameplan for working out indoors this summer. Indoor workouts offer the ability to control the air environment and ensure you’re breathing Healthy Air all summer long.

Aprilaire Fresh Air Ventilation: Seek out a well-ventilated space to replace the stale indoor air with fresh air from outside. This is especially important with the increased inhalation/exhalation that comes with exercise

It’s Time to Start Fresh
Turn your home into a safe haven.

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Aprilaire Air Filtration: Because you’re trying to avoid outdoor contaminants, make sure you’re filtering the air that’s coming into your home. If your air purification system has custom controls, you can schedule a “cleaning event” for before and after your workout

It’s Time to Care About Healthy Air
Breathe a sigh of relief.

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Aprilaire Humidity Control: Your sweat session is bound to add some humidity to your indoor air environment. For maximum comfort, keep the humidity level between 40-60%. Plus, an Aprilaire whole-home dehumidifier can relieve some of the burden on your air conditioner during heat waves

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
Breathe Healthy Air no matter when or where.

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If you don’t have much free space or workout equipment available, try some of these simple exercises that use common household items like: tricep dips with a chair, using a detergent bottle as a kettlebell, and door frame burpees

masks

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The Surprising Evergreen Benefits of Wearing Masks

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On May 13th, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. They said fully vaccinated people (those who received their final dose at least two weeks ago) can do almost all activities without a mask on.

The exceptions are when flying or taking public transit, and when visiting health care facilities or other areas where people are close together for long periods of time. Masks are still recommended in those places at this time.

Masks play an important role in reducing the spread of airborne illnesses, and in protecting you from breathing in other harmful particles. Now that masks are less necessary for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, let’s take a look at other reasons you can wear a mask to protect your health.

Home Improvement

As warmer weather arrives, you may have plans to paint the inside or outside of your home. While most common painting tasks like rolling and brushing likely don’t require more than a basic mask, you should use some type of disposable respirator if you’re using any type of spray application or removing old paint (especially if it may be lead-based paint.)

Other DIY projects that may include dusty environments or sanding a variety of surfaces should be done with an adequate respirator and eye protection.

Cleaning

From everyday chores like dusting and vacuuming to occasional deep cleaning that involves bleach and other chemicals, a mask will protect you from odor and keep any harmful substances from entering your airways.

For dusting, you can use the cloth masks you had during the pandemic, or upgrade to something like a specialized dust mask. Note that neither of these is fully effective against most chemicals and fumes.

When cleaning with harsh substances that can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), turn to a multi-purpose respirator that provides at least 99.7% filtration efficiency against solid and liquid aerosols.

Yardwork

For allergy sufferers, lawn mowing can present more problems than just a sunburn. The mower relentlessly kicks up pollen, ragweed, and other allergens, which can really take a toll on your health after an hour or more of exposure.

There are several mask options for protecting against allergens and other unwanted particles. Look for a mask that closes tightly around your nose and mouth for proper protection and to prevent fogging on any eye protection you’re wearing.

Proper Ventilation

Along with wearing the recommended masks above, proper ventilation is key to maintaining a Healthy Air environment for all your home projects.

When painting or cleaning indoors, keep windows open if the weather allows. And, an Aprilaire Whole-Home Ventilation System makes it simple to refresh the air in your home any time of year.

It can automatically bring in fresh air from the outside to dilute trapped airborne contaminants like allergens, chemicals, viruses and bacteria, and radon. It also helps push trapped humid air outside to help improve indoor comfort and health.

Talk to an Aprilaire Healthy Air Pro to see what’s possible for your home.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

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St. Vincent de Paul

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2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

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We take the importance of caring for others to heart at Aprilaire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

“A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

 Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

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Experiencing the Fight For Air Climb

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Before the Fight For Air Climb

Entering the US Bank Center for the American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb was a rush of energy.

This seemed less like an arduous trek up 1,000 stairs and more of an indoor festival. There were volunteers ready to greet you and pump you up for the ensuing climb and people from different companies sitting at tables ready to hand out souvenirs.

They were probably also there to distract you after you just got done instinctively looking up toward the top of the 47-story US Bank Center in downtown Milwaukee becoming a little uneasy at the prospect of your journey upward.

Before you made your climb, you gathered as a team and took several escalators down to the basement level before getting warmed up with a quick aerobic routine. Then you took a long and winding tunnel where you greeted by more volunteers who were cheering you on. It was hard not to feel inspired and excited.

During the Fight For Air Climb

One-by-one people took off up toward the top of the US Bank Center to begin their Fight For Air Climb. I, like most, started off confidently and quickly. I took the first six flights easily, but then by flight eight, I began to fight for air. I now understand why they title this climb just that. My mind and my body were at odds. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to continue at the same pace to get it over with as quickly as possible or to slow down and feel better. I went with the former.

Everyone in the stairwell was trudging onward with the same dilemma. We all were gasping for air as we kept pushing up each step and each flight toward the top of the Fight For Air Climb. At several points, I wondered if I was actually making any progress.

Every 10 flights there was a group of volunteers handing out cups of water and words of encouragement. Both were sorely needed to help push me along.

With each passing flight, I kept a tally of how many flights I had left. Twenty flights down, 27 more flights to go; 30 flights down, 17 flights to go; Ok, 40 flights down, 7 to go. By the time I got to the 40th floor, I knew I could make the last push to make it to the top of my Fight For Air Climb journey.

After the Fight For Air Climb

Eventually, I reached the top after 9 minutes and 31 seconds. At the top of the stairwell, I was met by volunteers who were cheering me on and by other climbers who were also catching their breath and taking in the picturesque views of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan afforded to us by the tallest building in Wisconsin.

As I grabbed a water and walked around soaking in both the views of the city and my accomplishment, it was really cool to watch teams taking pictures together or greeting other climbers with high-fives and smiles. There was a certain camaraderie found in a common struggle.

Despite the lingering soreness, I cannot wait for next year’s climb. No matter if I beat my time from this year or not, it’s about fighting for air together and helping those impacted with lung disease.

To join an upcoming climb in a city near you, visit www.lung.org/aprilaire.

flights

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Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

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Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

Activities Create Biggest Risks

She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer