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  • How long can you hold your breath?

  • Science says, without training it's gonna be about a minute.

  • Lets give it a shot!

  • [Haaah]

  • Some people, such as freedivers,

  • can hold their breath for a few minutes, with training.

  • But scientists have no idea why this is,

  • or why most of us gasp for air,

  • long before we turn blue in the face

  • or pass out.

  • In theory, we should be fine holding our breath,

  • for much longer.

  • After all, our lungs can hold about four minutes worth of air.

  • But at some point our body forces us to inhale.

  • Researchers call this the "breakpoint".

  • How does our body force this breakpoint?

  • Maybe a sensor in our arteries tells our brain

  • that our blood is getting low on oxygen.

  • Or perhaps our lungs are warning us

  • they're low on air

  • and forcing us to inhale.

  • Science has rejected both of these theories.

  • We now think it's actually our diaphragm,

  • signalling our body to take a breath.

  • Test this out yourself:

  • next time you hold your breath until you're about to burst,

  • try relaxing your diaphragm with a partial exhale.

  • This little trick should help delay your personal breakpoint.

  • [Phuaa]

  • Ok - 52 seconds.

  • That's obviously not going to break any records.

  • What can we do to hold our breaths longer?

  • It helps to be relaxed, motivated,

  • and definitely to be distracted.

  • Competitive breathholders also get more distance,

  • when they're submerged in water,

  • possibly because it slows their metabolism,

  • or because we don't want to breathe in water.

  • There are more serious tactics,

  • such as hyperventillation,

  • and inhaling high concentrations of oxygen,

  • but these aren't allowed in most breathholding competitions.

  • The longest anyone's ever held their breath?

  • In 2009, French diver Stéphane Mifsud held his breath

  • for 11 minutes and 35 seconds.

  • He accomplished this feat floating face-down in water,

  • and with close supervision.

  • For Scientific Americans "Instant Egghead", I'm Katherine Hermon.

How long can you hold your breath?

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B1 US breath breakpoint diaphragm inhale oxygen air

How Long Can You Hold Your Breath? - Instant Egghead #6

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