As a chemist "What is an antioxidant?" is a common question. Basically it's a molecule that stops a chain reaction of molecules called free radicals. Free radicals have only one electron on their outer shell, but having two will terminate their ability to further react. It's actually one way to make plastics. Can you prevent free radicals? No, in fact, athletic activities will increase their presence. These molecules damage the body over time, so it's important to have adequate systems in place to balance the free radicals out.
As a holistic therapist and someone who leads meditation, good diaphragmatic breathing (expanding the stomach on inhalation and collapsing on exhalation), is scarce. According to an Italian study "Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Exercise- induced Oxidative Stress" they were able to “demonstrate that relaxation induced by diaphragmatic breathing increases the antioxidant defense status in athletes after exhaustive exercise. These effects correlate with the concomitant decrease in cortisol and the increase in melatonin. The consequence is a lower level of oxidative stress, which suggests that an appropriate diaphragmatic breathing could protect athletes from long-term adverse effects of free radicals."
After your heavy New Year's Resolution workout, put on your AVE. A heart rate variability (HRV) program is built in for users to pace their breathing to 6 breaths per min. Inhale for two beats then exhale for two beats. Keeping one's mind on one's breath decreases anxiety and reduces the mind’s ability to wander in addition to behaving like an antioxidant.
So next time someone tells you to breathe deeply, do it from your diaphragm.
by Sima Chowdhury - January 4, 2011