What is the longest time a human has ever held their breath?

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Breathing is something that most of us take for granted. We inhale and exhale without much thought, allowing our bodies to take in the oxygen we need to survive. However, there are some who push the limits of what we thought was possible and can hold their breath for incredible lengths of time. But what is the longest time a human has ever held their breath? In this blog post, we’ll delve into the topic and explore the science behind it.

What is the longest time a human has ever held their breath?

The Basics of Breathing

Before we dive into the world of breath-holding records, it’s important to understand the basics of breathing. Breathing is the process of taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The oxygen we inhale is used by our cells to produce energy, while the carbon dioxide we exhale is a waste product that needs to be removed from the body. The process of breathing is controlled by the respiratory system, which includes the lungs, bronchial tubes, and trachea.

When we take a deep breath, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles contract, expanding the chest cavity and creating a vacuum that draws air into the lungs. Oxygen is then transferred into the bloodstream, where it is transported to the cells that need it. Carbon dioxide, which is a byproduct of cell metabolism, is carried in the bloodstream back to the lungs, where it is exhaled.

The World Record for Holding Your Breath

The world record for holding your breath underwater is held by Aleix Segura Vendrell, who held his breath for an incredible 24 minutes and 3 seconds in 2016. Vendrell broke the previous record of 22 minutes and 22 seconds, which was set by Goran Čolak in 2013. Vendrell accomplished his record-breaking feat by training his body to increase its tolerance to carbon dioxide, which is the primary trigger for the urge to breathe.

In order to train his body, Vendrell engaged in a process called “apnea training,” which involved a series of breathing exercises designed to increase lung capacity and decrease the body’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide. This allowed him to hold his breath for longer periods of time without experiencing the urge to breathe. Vendrell also employed a technique called “lung packing,” which involves taking a series of deep breaths and then exhaling as much air as possible before holding his breath.

The Science Behind Breath-Holding

Breath-holding is a complex physiological process that involves multiple systems in the body. The urge to breathe is triggered by an increase in carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream, which is detected by chemoreceptors in the brain. These chemoreceptors send signals to the respiratory center in the brainstem, which then sends signals to the diaphragm and intercostal muscles to initiate breathing.

During breath-holding, the body goes through a series of physiological changes in order to conserve oxygen and cope with the buildup of carbon dioxide. The heart rate slows down, blood vessels constrict, and the body’s metabolism slows down. This allows the body to conserve oxygen and delay the onset of the urge to breathe. However, if breath-holding is continued for too long, the body will eventually enter a state of oxygen deprivation, which can lead to unconsciousness or even death.

The Dangers of Breath-Holding

While holding your breath can be an impressive feat, it’s important to understand the risks involved. The primary danger of breath-holding is hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen in the body. When the body is deprived of oxygen, it can lead to dizziness, confusion, and even loss of consciousness. In extreme cases, hypoxia can lead to brain damage or death.

Another danger of breath-holding

is the risk of shallow water blackout, which occurs when a person loses consciousness underwater due to hypoxia. This can happen even if the person has not reached their maximum breath-holding capacity, as the urge to breathe is not always an accurate indicator of the body’s oxygen levels. Shallow water blackout can be particularly dangerous, as the person may inhale water and drown without anyone realizing what has happened.

Breath-holding can also be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease. These conditions can make it more difficult for the body to cope with the stress of breath-holding, increasing the risk of complications.

The Benefits of Controlled Breathing

While breath-holding can be dangerous, controlled breathing techniques can have a number of benefits for the body and mind. Deep breathing exercises, for example, have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve lung function. These exercises involve taking slow, deep breaths and exhaling slowly, allowing the body to relax and reducing the production of stress hormones.

Practicing controlled breathing can also be helpful for athletes, particularly those in endurance sports such as swimming or running. By training the body to use oxygen more efficiently, athletes can improve their performance and endurance. Controlled breathing can also be helpful for people with certain medical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as it can improve lung function and reduce shortness of breath.


In conclusion, breath-holding can be an impressive feat of human endurance, but it’s important to understand the risks involved. While the world record for breath-holding is an impressive 24 minutes and 3 seconds, it’s important to remember that this was achieved through extensive training and preparation. Breath-holding can be dangerous, particularly for people with certain medical conditions or in certain environments, such as underwater.

However, controlled breathing techniques can have a number of benefits for the body and mind, including reducing stress and anxiety, improving lung function, and increasing endurance. By understanding the science behind breath-holding and practicing safe and controlled breathing techniques, we can harness the power of our breath to improve our overall health and well-being.

What is the longest time a human has ever held their breath?
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