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    How long can the average person hold their breath? Benefits and risks

    Breath training can be used to increase lung capacity, but the average person can hold their breath for only a few seconds. Read on for more.

    How long can the average person hold their breath?

    Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI — Written by Jenna Fletcher on November 24, 2020

    The average person can hold their breath for 30–90 seconds. This time can increase or decrease due to various factors, such as smoking, underlying medical conditions, or breath training.

    The length of time a person can hold their breath voluntarily typically ranges from 30 to 90 seconds

    Trusted Source Trusted Source .

    A person can practice breath-holding to increase their lung capacity, and there are training guidelines to help individuals learn to hold their breath for longer periods. Training usually takes several months.

    People may use these training techniques for advanced military training, free diving, swimming, or other recreational activities.

    This article will look at the physical effects of breath-holding, benefits, risks, and increasing lung capacity.

    What happens when you hold your breath?

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    Image credit: Blend Images – JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

    A person needs oxygen for their body to perform vital functions, and holding in a breath prevents new oxygen from entering the body.

    When people hold their breath, the body is still using oxygen to function and to release carbon dioxide as a waste product.

    Because carbon dioxide has nowhere to go, its levels within the body increase, eventually triggering the involuntary reflex to start breathing again.

    At first, a person may feel a burning sensation in their lungs. If they hold their breath long enough, the muscles in their diaphragm will begin to contract to try to force breathing, which can cause pain.

    If an individual does not resume their usual breathing pattern, they will lose consciousness, and if they are in a safe location, the body should automatically begin to breathe and start to get the oxygen it needs.

    Should a person not be in a safe location, such as underwater, it is at this time that drowning may occur.

    Benefits of breath-holding

    Holding in a breath may have some benefit for a person’s health. Evidence suggests that increasing lung function and the amount of time a person can hold their breath may:

    positively impact Trusted Source Trusted Source

    inflammation, which may be important for autoimmune conditions

    help increase Trusted Source Trusted Source

    a person’s life span and prevent damage to stem cells in the brain

    Another study Trusted Source Trusted Source

    carried out on salamanders found that holding oxygen helped them regenerate brain tissue. Human participants have not taken part in this study, although similar properties may exist in humans or other animals.

    Risks of breath-holding

    A person can hold their breath safely when outside of water and in a safe environment, and in most cases, they will give in to their body’s responses to lack of oxygen before they pass out.


    When a person is underwater and gives in to their body’s natural responses to breathe, the lungs will fill with water, and the person may need emergency lifesaving treatment to prevent a fatal outcome.

    In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    reported on accidental drownings from dangerous underwater breath-holding behaviors. These included social games, such as breath-holding challenges and training exercises.

    The report identified that two men in the training process for advanced military testing had drowned after passing out underwater. They had passed out due to the reduced pressure from the oxygen in their blood.

    Other risk factors

    Unless a person holding their breath is underwater or in an equally dangerous environment, they are not in any imminent danger.

    However, according to the Journal of Applied Physiology, some additional risks may include:

    increase in blood pressure

    increased risk of brain damage

    loss of coordination

    reduced heart rate

    increase in blood sugar levels

    How to increase lung capacity

    If a person is interested in increasing their lung capacity, they can train their bodies and lungs to go without oxygen for increasingly long periods.

    Divers may use Trusted Source Trusted Source

    apnea training to help them increase their lung capacity. The idea behind the training is to gradually increase a person’s ability to hold their breath by alternating between breathing and breath-holding for a set number of minutes.

    Before attempting to increase their lung capacity, a person should seek guidance from their healthcare provider and consider training with professional diving experts and those knowledgeable about lifesaving techniques.


    A person can typically hold their breath for a few seconds to a little over a minute before the urge to breathe again becomes too strong.

    Individuals can increase their lung capacity by practicing holding their breath for longer periods.

    In addition to the recreational or professional benefits of an increased lung capacity, a person may experience additional health benefits from breath-holding.

    Source : www.medicalnewstoday.com

    Holding Your Breath: Benefits, Side Effects, and How to Do It Safely

    Holding your breath can save your life and may have other physiological benefits. Here's how to train to do it safely, as well as what you need to know about the various side effects.

    How to Train to Hold Your Breath Longer Safely

    Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT — Written by Tim Jewell on February 7, 2020

    Most people can hold their breath for somewhere between 30 seconds and up to 2 minutes.

    Why try holding your breath longer?

    There’s not necessarily an immediate, everyday benefit (other than a conversational icebreaker). But holding your breath can save your life in certain situations, like if you fall off a boat.

    The record for holding your breath may be hard to top. According to Guinness World Records, Aleix Segura Vendrell of Barcelona, Spain, set the bar high at 24 minutes and 3 seconds in February 2016.

    Let’s get into what’s happening in your body when you hold your breath, what possible side effects can happen if you don’t do it right, and what benefits you can get out of holding your breath longer.

    What happens when you hold your breath

    Here’s what happens to your body when you hold your breath. The times are approximate:

    0:00 to 0:30. You might feel relaxed as you close your eyes and tune out the world around you.0:30 to 2:00. You’ll start to feel uncomfortable pain in your lungs. The most common misconception about holding your breath is that you’re running out of air — you’re not. Learning to slow your breathing and increase intake during inhalation is part of this. But holding your breath is difficult and dangerous because carbon dioxide (CO₂) is building up in your blood from not exhaling.2:00 to 3:00. Your stomach starts to rapidly convulse and contract. This is because your diaphragm is trying to force you to take a breath.3:00 to 5:00. You’ll begin to feel lightheaded. As CO₂ builds to higher and higher levels, it pushes the oxygen out of your bloodstream and reduces the amount of oxygenated blood traveling to your brain.5:00 to 6:00. Your body will start to shake as your muscles begin to uncontrollably contract. This is when holding your breath can become dangerous.6:00 and longer. You’ll black out. Your brain badly needs oxygen, so it knocks you unconscious so your automatic breathing mechanisms will kick back in. If you’re underwater, you’ll probably inhale water into your lungs, which is life threatening.

    Side effects of holding your breath

    Holding your breath too long can have some side effects

    Trusted Source Trusted Source , including:

    low heart rate from a lack of oxygen

    CO₂ buildup in your bloodstream

    nitrogen narcosis, a dangerous buildup of nitrogen gases in your blood that can make you feel disoriented or inebriated (common among deep-sea divers)

    decompression sickness, which occurs when nitrogen in your blood forms bubbles in your bloodstream instead of clearing out of your blood when water pressure decreases (called “the bends” among divers)

    loss of consciousness, or blacking out

    pulmonary edema, when fluid builds up in the lungs

    alveolar hemorrhage, or bleeding in your lungs

    lung injury that can lead to total lung collapse

    complete loss of blood flow to the heart, which can cause your heart to stop pumping (cardiac arrest)

    buildup of dangerous reactive oxygen species (ROS), which happens due to long periods of low oxygen then breathing oxygen back in at high levels, which can damage DNA

    brain damage from a protein called S100B that breaks out from your bloodstream into your brain through the blood-brain barrier when your cells are damaged

    Can you die from holding your breath?

    Yes, but not if you’re above water.

    When you black out, your body automatically starts breathing again. Your lungs will gasp for air since you’re programmed to inhale and exhale, even if you’re unconscious (like when you sleep).

    If you’re underwater, the gasp for air may let in a huge volume of water.

    Inhaling water isn’t always fatal if you’re resuscitated by CPR or have the water pumped out of your lungs by emergency responders.

    But in most cases, blacking out underwater from holding your breath is deadly.


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    Are you experiencing chronic shortness of breath or a nagging cough? You've come to the right place. Here's everything you need to know to manage your COPD symptoms.


    Holding breath benefits

    Holding your breath, as well as generally improving breathing and lung function, has useful, potentially lifesaving benefits, including:

    increasing life span

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    by preserving the health of stem cells

    possible regeneration of new tissue in the brain

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    to preserve brain function (this is theoretical in humans, though; studies have only been done on salamanders)

    increasing resistance to bacterial infections

    Trusted Source Trusted Source

    learning how to make yourself feel relaxed

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    How to hold your breath longer underwater

    If you’re interested in holding your breath longer, be sure to go slowly. Use common sense: Stop and breathe normally if you’re feeling dizzy or have any of the symptoms of oxygen deprivation.

    Source : www.healthline.com

    How long can the average person hold their breath?

    Answer (1 of 116): Breath holding is actually a very good sign of health and fitness. But you have to first define what type of breath holding: a) taking several deep breaths beforehand and then a deep inhale b) inhaling first c) exhaling first. Free divers and pearl divers use the first meth...

    How long can the average person hold their breath?

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    116 Answers Marshall Woolner

    , studied at George Mason High (1966)

    Answered 2 years ago · Author has 1.8K answers and 1.3M answer views

    Originally Answered: Can you tell me how long a man can hold his breath?

    An average adult man can hold his breath about 45 seconds to 1 minute before feeling an intense urge to breath. A man with strong will power can hold his breath long enough to pass out, usually about 2–3 minutes. A man who is unable to breath for any reason can go about 5 minutes (or possibly longer) before irreversible brain damage occurs.

    Men who are physically fit and who train for sporting events that require exceptional cardiovascular and pulmonary function (long distance running, swimming, intensely physical sports) can hold their breath much longer.

    The primary driver of the intense and e

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    Anthony Warren

    , CEO, BreatheSimple.com, breath training software at BreatheSimple (2009-present)

    Answered 4 years ago · Author has 1.3K answers and 2.3M answer views

    Breath holding is actually a very good sign of health and fitness. But you have to first define what type of breath holding:

    a) taking several deep breaths beforehand and then a deep inhale

    b) inhaling first c) exhaling first.

    Free divers and pearl divers use the first method.

    But the best way to improve your health is actually using c) - it is shorter of course as you have no reservoir of air in your lungs, but it actually is a faster method to train your endurance.

    Interestingly when we are underwater our breath holding time gets longer - it is called the diving reflex - the record is over twenty

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    Dell Anderson

    Updated 4 years ago · Author has 85 answers and 577.8K answer views

    Originally Answered: How long can people hold their breath?

    Different people can hold their breath longer or shorter. As long as it is voluntary and above water there is usually little harm because they will usually pass out and start breathing spontaneously within about 3 minutes (5 minutes can lead to permanent brain damage).

    All bets are off when holding breath underwater. Even experienced swimmers or lifeguards have been known to drown or have a near drowning when trying to hold their breath under water.

    Why is this so? Basically because two things trigger the urge to breathe: Blood oxygen level (low) and blood carbon dioxide level (high). If blood o

    Jesse Roberge

    Answered 4 years ago · Author has 1.6K answers and 4.4M answer views

    At rest:

    Normal people: 45–90 sec depending on fitness

    Amateur free-divers: 2–4 minutes

    Professional free-divers: 5–10 minutes

    World record masochists: Even longer

    Light activity (slow swim) - half the time

    High activity (near-sprint) - quarter the time

    84.3K viewsView upvotesView 1 shareAnswer requested by

    Gary Golly Related questions More answers below

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    Daniel Schwager , works at Schools

    Answered 5 years ago · Author has 799 answers and 654.4K answer views

    Originally Answered: How long can you hold your breath?

    I've recently started breathing exercises put forward by Wim Hoff.

    Before I started these exercises my best was upper 2 minutes low 3 minutes. I never tried super hard so that is not exact.

    Today I just accomplished my personal best at 4 minutes 15 seconds. Beating Houdinis best!

    I'm not up to Wim Hof's or David Blaine's time of over 20 minutes but I am surprised how little effort it took me to overcome the 4 minute mark. I plan to keep going and beat 5! Not only that I feel better after I do the exercises and they have helped me manage anxiety. Try them yourself and see how you feel after just a

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    Steve Wood

    , former Professor of Physiology at Medical Schools (1973-2018)

    Answered 11 months ago · Author has 301 answers and 43.2K answer views

    Originally Answered: How long can we hold our breath underwater?

    Get a stopwatch and try it. It varies tremendously depending on one’s pain threshold and lung size. If you hyperventilate, you can hold your breath longer. If you fill your lungs to capacity you can hold your breath longer. 1–2 minutes for most people.

    Source : www.quora.com

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