What is "paced breathing" and is it helpful for menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes?
Answer From Richa Sood, M.D.
Paced breathing is slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing. With normal breathing, you take about 12 to 14 breaths a minute. By comparison, with paced breathing you take only 5 to 7 breaths a minute. The paced breaths are slow, smooth and deep enough to move your diaphragm — the muscular wall located beneath your lungs — as you take deeper breaths. The goal of paced breathing is to reduce the stress chemicals your brain produces and facilitate a relaxation response.
Some evidence shows that paced breathing may help reduce menopausal hot flashes, including how often they occur and how severe they are. Paced breathing may also help lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety and promote relaxation.
You can teach yourself paced breathing — for instance, from a smartphone app or Web-based program — or you can seek the help of an expert.
Paced breathing may not be appropriate if you experience dizziness or have hyperventilation problems. Otherwise, paced breathing is a generally safe mind-body approach to enhance relaxation.
Jan. 10, 2020
- Sood R, et al. Paced breathing compared with usual breathing for hot flashes. Menopause. 2013;20:179.
- AskMayoExpert. Paced breathing. Mayo Clinic; 2019.
- Sood R (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 5, 2014.
- Johnson A, et al. Complementary and alternative medicine for menopause. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine. 2019;24:1.