Have you ever wondered, “how long can a person hold their breath?” You’re in luck. Here is a definitive guide on everything related to breath-holding, including the longest time holding breath, the average time to hold the breath for regular people, and ways on how to hold your breath longer.
- 1 Longest Time Holding Breath
- 2 How Long Can The Average Person Hold Their Breath?
- 3 Benefits Of Learning To Hold Your Breath Longer
- 4 How To Hold Your Breath Longer
- 5 Overview
Longest Time Holding Breath
The current longest breath-hold was set in 2012 by Tom Sietas, a German freediver with a record for holding breath underwater at 22 minutes and 22 seconds. This is longer than Dane Stig Severinsen’s record at 19 minutes and 30 seconds, but he is still listed by Guinness as the record holder.
Interestingly enough, on the 28th of February 2016, another person, Aleix Segura Vendrell, a professional freediver from Spain, beat both records when he lasted underwater for a total of 24 minutes and 3.45 seconds during the 17th Mediterranean Dive Show. All three record holding divers breathed in pure oxygen before their dive.
As for nonoxygen aided breath-holding records, it currently stands at 11 minutes and 35 seconds for men, set by Stéphane Mifsud in 2009, and at 8 minutes and 23 seconds for women, set by Natalia Molchanova in 2011.
World Record For Holding Breath
Setting world records for the longest breath held is officially referred to as static apnea. There are actually two categories for this event- one is for dives that are performed after inhaling pure oxygen (called hyperventilation), and another for dives without the use of pure oxygen.
When it comes to the first category, The Guinness Book of World Records lets divers hyperventilate with pure oxygen for as long as 30 minutes prior to submerging for their attempt at a new record. However, The International Association for the Development of Apnea, the presiding body over freediving world records, only accepts non-oxygen aided records.
Hyperventilation comes with a lot of benefits. One, breathing in pure oxygen helps the diver’s body expel carbon dioxide and thereby prolonging the time before the level of carbon dioxide in the body becomes toxic. Moreover, it also extends the time before the level of oxygen in the body falls too low, which is dangerous as it can lead to tissue and brain damage.
Longest Time Holding Breath On Land
If you are wondering, “how long can someone hold their breath on land?” well, competing for the longest time holding breath on land is not really an actual thing, so there is no clear and acknowledged record for it.
Moreover, holding our breath on land is a lot more difficult and not as successful as doing so underwater, so even a professional diver will likely only last half as long, even if he breathes in pure oxygen beforehand.
This is because humans, and most other mammals, have developed a “diving reflex” that constricts blood vessels in some parts of the body in order to conserve oxygen and maintain a steady supply of it to the heart and brain. The heart rate also slows down to anywhere from 10 to 50 percent in order to further conserve oxygen.
Longest Time Holding Breath Underwater
Now, if you’re asking, “how long can a human hold their breath underwater?”, the answer will depend on which record-holding body you look at. The longest time holding breath underwater for The Guinness Book of World Records is different from that of The International Association for the Development of Apnea, mainly because they have different metrics.
Plus, it’s also different for men and women, with men typically holding slightly higher records than women. As such, the current world records range from 8 minutes to 24 minutes. It’s important to note that these record-holders are all professional divers who have rigorously trained their bodies to achieve such records.
To give you an idea of how difficult this training is and how other people compare, many pearl divers who free-dive for a living can hold their breaths underwater for as long as 7 minutes each dive, whereas Navy SEALs can do the same for an average of 2 to 3 minutes even after going through required breath-holding drills.
How Long Can The Average Person Hold Their Breath?
So, how long can the average person hold their breath? Well, it can be anywhere between 30 seconds and two minutes, largely depending on how healthy, fit, and relaxed you are. Our lungs and blood generally have a good supply of oxygen at all times, so that’s not really a factor.
Again, the answer to “how long can you hold your breath?” also depends on whether you are on land or underwater, as this will determine whether your “diving reflex” is activated, which is what helps you hold your breath longer. Without training, you can most likely stay underwater for around 90 seconds before having to take a breath.
What Happens When You Hold Your Breath?
Ever wondered what really happens to your body whenever you try to hold your breath for a certain period of time? Here’s the answer:
- From 0 to 30 seconds, you will likely feel relaxed and your environment will fade into the background. This is why taking deep breaths calms us down, and is also why breathing techniques are a common part of meditation.
- After 30 seconds and until two minutes, you will begin to feel uncomfortable, and your lungs will begin to hurt. This does not mean that your body is running out of the air, although carbon dioxide starts to build up in your blood the longer you don’t exhale.
- Within the next minute, you will notice your stomach rapidly convulsing and contracting in order to force you to take a breath.
- At around 3 to 5 minutes, you will start to feel lightheaded as the carbon dioxide pushes oxygen out of the bloodstream and leaves you with much less oxygenated blood to reach your brain.
- In the next minute, your muscles will start to contract uncontrollably, leading to your body starting to shake. This is usually the most dangerous point, especially if you are underwater.
- After 6 minutes and beyond, your brain will make you blackout in order for your automatic breathing mechanisms to work without interference. On land, this means regaining your breath, but underwater, it will make you inhale water into your lungs.
As you can see, when not done properly, holding your breath can be dangerous and life-threatening. It’s also really difficult as your mind and body rallies against you.
However, you can do several things to be able to hold your breath longer, such as slowing down your breathing and increasing your oxygen intake during inhalation. If you want something with a more notable and long term effect, you can also safely train your body as many divers do.
Benefits Of Learning To Hold Your Breath Longer
But, why try to learn how to last longer without taking a breath? Sure, it can be fun when you’re messing around with your friends by the pool, but aside from that? What are the other benefits it can offer?
For one thing, it can give you an advantage if and when you find yourself in a life-threatening situation, such as falling off a boat, your car diving into the river, and so on. It also improves your breathing and lung function.
Moreover, it will help preserve the health of your stem cells, likely aid in regenerating brain tissue for an improved brain function and enhance your resistance to several bacterial infections. Plus, learning proper breathing techniques can make you feel more relaxed.
How To Hold Your Breath Longer
Here’s how to hold your breath longer:
First of all, remember to prioritize your safety and wellbeing. Stop as soon as you feel dizzy or start to experience any symptom of oxygen deprivation.
Now, step one is to learn the right way of taking a deep breath, which should last for around 20 seconds before exhaling and should involve your belly moving up and down while your shoulders and chest remain in place.
You should also try engaging in exercises that will increase your lung capacity, such as diaphragmatic or box breathing. You will learn to hold your breath by following these steps:
- Hold your breath for 1 minute
- Breathe normally for 90 seconds
- Repeat steps 1 to 2, each time reducing your rest period
Afterwards, you can train your body to store oxygen:
- Hold your breath for 1 minute
- Breathe normally for 2 minutes
- Repeat and increase the duration of your breath hold for 15 seconds each time while keeping your rest period at a constant 2 minutes
You can alternate between these two exercises each day. Remember to rest for a few hours in between exercises. In these exercises, try to gradually increase your breath-hold time in 15-second increments, remembering to stop as soon as you experience any ill symptoms. Moreover, do your best to stay still, relax, and slow your heart rate.
As of today, the current world record for the longest time holding breath is largely acknowledged to be held by Tom Sietas with a record of 22 minutes and 22 seconds. With the right training and lots of patience, trying to beat this record is not impossible!