Take a breather

Simple breathing techniques may help you to better manage heart-related issues.

Maybe you're already in the habit of taking a deep breath to calm down when you're feeling fed up or frustrated. But a regular practice of focused breathing might offer even bigger rewards.

"Stress directly affects blood flow to the heart muscle, and any technique people can use to lower stress will benefit the heart," says Dr. Kimberly Parks, a cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. Some people turn to yoga, tai chi, or meditation for stress relief. But others aren't interested in trying those techniques. For them, a simple breathing practice may be more appealing, in part because it's easy, it's free, it takes just a few minutes, and it can be done anywhere at any time.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »