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  • Writer's pictureDmitri Konash

4-7-8 Breathing

Updated: May 30, 2023

How 4-7-8 breathing method changed my life and why you should also master this breathing technique

4-7-8 breathing transformed a stressed out exec to an Ironman race finisher
4-7-8 breathing transformed me from a stressed out exec to an Ironman race finisher

It may sound like an advertising story but it is a real one. My life did take a major turn when my doctor suggested that I should explore 4-7-8 breathing technique to address my anxiety and high blood pressure.

Personal story.

It was a start of a journey of the stressed out executive of a global high tech company in his mid forties, who suffered from anxiety and high blood pressure, to a triathlon athlete competing in endurance races. What a journey it was and I am so glad that this journey continues!

The photo above on the left was taken when I was 48. This is when I was formally diagnosed with hypertension. The photo on the right - my finish at the Ironman Barcelona in October 2020 at the age of 55. Not only my anxiety and hypertension are gone, but my mental and physical conditions are much better than they have been in decades. Now, approaching 60, I feel more physical and mental energy than I felt at 40.

I started from posting several videos on YouTube with breathing and physical exercises to lower anxiety and high blood pressure. They became quite popular and I decided to complement videos with a blog as a way to provide more details and answer questions.

4-7-8 breathing method

This breathing anxiety exercise was originally proposed by Dr. Andrew Weil from the University of Arizona. It has been scientifically proven to help lower blood pressure, improve sleep and lower stress (increase Heart Rate Variability, or HRV) [1].

1. Take a slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.

2. Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.

3. Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8.

4. Repeat for several minutes.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a bit more difficult to learn then the equal length inhale/exhale sequence. However longer exhalation engages our parasympathetic nervous system which in turn sends a powerful message to the body to relax.

To learn this method you can follow a popular guiding video for 4-7-8 breathing on our YouTube channel.

How do you progress from here?

There are different breathing exercises for different purposes: to calm and lower anxiety and high blood pressure, to prepare for better sleep, for alertness and cognitive focus, etc. For example box breathing exercise, which is used in the Navy Seals training, is known for both calming and focus properties.

In my case after calming down with breathing exercises and figuring for myself that I am personally responsible for the future of my health, I progressed to moderate aerobic exercises (brisk walking and then running), than added High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to my weekly routine. To stay motivated I started to sign for different endurance races. You know the rest of the story.

I created blood pressure app BreathNow to provide practical guidance to those willing to improve their health by getting rid of anxiety and high blood pressure with natural tools. It includes different breathing exercises, like 4-7-8 breathing, and other calming techniques which can be performed on your smartphone and Apple Watch.

Effectiveness of 4-7-8 breathing is objectively measured with BreathNow app

It also includes guiding videos for different physical exercises which will further improve your health. The big theme of BreathNow is objectively measuring user progress: heart rate, stress, cardio fitness, tracking blood pressure (with external blood pressure monitors) and showing which activities produce best results. Most of BreathNow functions are free. Give it a try and let me know what you think.



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