How Long Can You Hold Your Breath (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 11 minutes

No people can hold their breath for a long time as the body needs oxygen to function. There are many reasons for holding your breath, such as swimming and playing a wind instrument. Many people hold their breath to know their breath-holding capacity. Holding the breath is not a natural thing as the body is not designed to stop breathing.

The body keeps on breathing automatically without any external help. The oxygen level of everyone goes down when the person holds their breath. Here, the state of hypoxia occurs as the carbon dioxide level increase.

How Long Can You Hold Your Breath?

Breath Holding Time How Long Can You Hold Your Breath (Average Time)
For normal people Up to 1 minute
For experts or professionals Up to 11 minutes

Generally, the people can hold their breath for around 2 minutes. There are some people that can hold their breath for 11 minutes without any trouble. There is a record made in 2016 by a Spanish free diver who did hold his breath for around 24 minutes. People who are native to the mountains would be able to hold their breath for a long time.

The body type, environmental factors, and genetic factors would determine the time someone can hold their breath. Breath-holding is not a friendly action for the body. The organs would start behaving differently when someone holds their breath for a long time.

This is due to insufficient oxygen available for the body when someone holds their breath for more than 1 minute. The liver and kidney may get damaged if anybody holds their breath for a long time. The reason for such kidney and liver damage is the uneven or irregular heartbeat. Not breathing for a long time may cause seizures or brain injury in humans.

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When someone is not breathing, the carbon dioxide produced in huge amounts may cross the blood-brain barrier. This will increase the inhaling and exhaling desire of the body as the brain notices the change.

Why Can You hold Your Breath For This Long?

The long-term breath-holding process is not recommended for the body as this may cause death. The breath should be held for a few minutes as the body can use the stored oxygen for a short time. Some people may experience shallow water blackouts. In the hypoxic or shallow water blackout, the person will faint due to breath-holding.

The people with good experience of breath-holding may hold their breath for more time as compared to people without experience. Breath-holding is a part of many yogic exercises. In yoga, the person may have to hold their breath for a few seconds or minutes under expert supervision. The Himalayan highlanders can hold their breath for a longer time as they are adapted to the less oxygen level.

People that belong to high altitude places where the amount of oxygen is extremely low will react to hypoxia in a better manner. If someone comes from the lower altitudes, then for him breathe holding would be quite herculean. Breath-holding is not for everyone as there are many demerits of the action. The professionals do breath-holding for some specific sports or activities.

If someone wants to practice breath-holding for a long time, then he or she should perform inhaling the oxygen many times before holding the breath. This will help in storing some amount of oxygen inside the body. Breathe holding can help in growing or regenerating the damaged tissues of the brain. Breath-holding is an outstanding breathing technique to reduce bloating or inflammation.

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Conclusion

The breath-holding technique will improve the heart health of people if performed for a short time period. Breath-holding is a good way to improve lung capacity. The time someone can hold their breath depends on the capacity of the person. There are many advantages of breath-holding, but nobody can ignore the disadvantages.

If someone wishes to indulge in the competition of holding their breath, they should do it under expert observation.

References

  1. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1113/expphysiol.2005.031625
  2. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/pdf/10.1152/jappl.1954.6.9.539
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