According the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, “12.7 percent of American adults used deep-breathing exercises… for health purposes,” which it describes as follows, “Deep breathing involves slow and deep inhalation through the nose, usually to a count of 10, followed by slow and complete exhalation for a similar count. The process may be repeated 5 to 10 times, several times a day.”
According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center, “Diaphragmatic breathing allows one to take normal breaths while maximizing the amount of oxygen that goes into the bloodstream. It is a way of interrupting the ‘Fight or Flight’ response and triggering the body’s normal relaxation response.” They provide a video demonstration.
In complementary and alternative medicine
Some practitioners of CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) believe that particular kinds of breathing they identify as diaphragm breathing can be used to bring about health benefits.
Deep breathing exercises are sometimes used as a form of relaxation, that, when practiced regularly, may lead to the relief or prevention of symptoms commonly associated with stress, which may include high blood pressure, headaches, stomach conditions, depression, anxiety, and others.
How it happens
The term ‘diaphragmatic’ is sometimes misinterpreted to imply that the thoracic diaphragm is not used in shallow breathing. This is a misunderstanding, as the diaphragm is actually used in both cases.
Due to the lung expansion being lower (inferior) on the body as opposed to higher up (superior), it is referred to as ‘deep’ and the higher lung expansion of rib cage breathing is referred to as ‘shallow’. The actual volume of air taken into the lungs with either means varies.