No matter what area of fitness you are involved in, practicing your breathing and maximizing your oxygen intake is essential. One of the biggest culprits of bad breathing techniques is novice weightlifters. Newbies to the weight room are often witnessed holding their breath while lifting heavy loads (myself included). It is true that anaerobic activity uses little oxygen in the body to create energy. However, when most people are engaged in heavy resistance exercise arterial hypertension goes up. If arterial hypertension gets too high, the lifter is potentially at a higher risk of a stroke (see Influence of breathing technique on arterial blood pressure during heavy weight lifting).
During aerobic activity, your breathing pattern can be a key indicator of exertion. Hyperventilation is your body’s way of cooling you down and also its attempt to get more oxygen into your body. For extended endurance activity, a good rule of thumb is to operate at a level where it is still comfortable for you to engage in conversation with someone else. If you are involved in short duration, high intensity, aerobic activity (as known as HIIT training) the rules are a bit different but rhythmic, full breathing techniques can still prove beneficial.
If you would like to get better at breathing there are numerous resources available ranging from how-to books to yoga classes. The benefits of proper breathing techniques only begin at optimizing oxygen consume… some of the additional studied benefits are unique to the sport or activity you are participating in. These additional benefits include reduced stress, reduced risk of injury, and operating at a higher metabolic rate… to name a few.