How Long Can You Hold Your Breath Underwater?

Given that human beings cannot breathe underwater like fish, if you plan to spend a significant amount of time below the surface, you will need to hold your breath. When children play in the pool, lake, or even in the bathtub, it is common for a contest to arise to see who can hold their breath underwater for the longest period of time.

However, holding your breath underwater is not just a game for children. Extreme athletes known as freedivers regularly engage in similar contests. This activity is referred to as static apnea. Apnea refers to a temporary suspension of breathing, and freedivers practice in order to increase the duration of time they can stay underwater without resurfacing for air.

The current record for static apnea is held by Branko Petrović of Serbia, with a time of 11 minutes and 54 seconds. Can you imagine holding your breath for that long? It is quite impressive! To get a sense of how long that is, set a timer for 11 minutes and 54 seconds and wait for it to run out. It is a substantial amount of time, isn’t it? To provide perspective to a friend, see how high you can count during that time.

Surprisingly, there have been individuals who have held their breath for even longer than 11 minutes. The Guinness Book of World Records has a specific category for breath-holding underwater. Unlike freedivers who practice static apnea, the Guinness guidelines allow participants to breathe pure oxygen for up to 30 minutes prior to their attempt.

With the advantage of breathing pure oxygen beforehand, the current Guinness World Record for breath-holding underwater is held by Aleix Segura of Spain, at an astounding 24 minutes and 3 seconds!

Most individuals in good health can hold their breath for approximately two minutes. Experts suggest that even a small amount of practice can significantly increase this duration. However, they also caution that depriving the body of oxygen can have numerous negative effects, so it is not advisable to make a habit of holding your breath for extended periods of time!

When you hold your breath, carbon dioxide (the gas you typically exhale) accumulates inside your body. Eventually, this gas must be expelled, and a reflex causes the respiratory muscles to contract. These contractions are painful and usually result in gasping for air after just a couple of minutes.

When individuals attempting to break Guinness World Records breathe pure oxygen before holding their breath, they do so in order to eliminate as much carbon dioxide from their bodies as possible. The extra oxygen also helps them to go for longer periods without breathing.

Being underwater also helps counteract the body’s natural reactions. Similar to dolphins and whales, our bodies instinctively conserve oxygen when submerged. This reaction, known as the diving reflex, helps preserve the oxygen in our bodies and enables us to hold our breath for even longer periods of time.

Of course, if you wish to explore underwater, you will want to spend more than just a few minutes below the surface. Divers who desire to spend extended periods of time underwater typically use scuba gear.

“SCUBA” was originally an acronym for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Today, scuba is used as a common term to refer to the practice of using specialized equipment to breathe underwater while diving.

The original text talks about the development of scuba gear for combat divers during World War II and the use of scuba gear by divers today. It also suggests some activities for readers to try related to diving.

During World War II, frogmen, who were U.S. combat divers, used rebreathers to stay underwater for long periods of time. These rebreathers were the first scuba gear developed.

Nowadays, scuba divers use tanks of compressed air that are attached to their backs. These tanks supply air to a demand valve regulator, which is connected to a mouthpiece. Breathing underwater through this device takes some getting used to, so aspiring scuba divers must undergo special training before they can be certified.

If you want to try diving-related activities, you can do the following:

1. Test how long you and a friend can hold your breath. Keep a record of your times and try again each day for several days. See if your breath-holding time improves with practice. Plot your times on a graph to compare and analyze the effect of practice. Write a brief summary of your findings, using the graph as evidence.

2. Imagine where you would go diving if you had the chance. Think about what you would like to see and what sea creatures fascinate you. Create a collage using materials you have or a Canva template. Share your creation with someone.

3. If you don’t have scuba gear, don’t worry. You can still participate in virtual online dives such as the Komodo Virtual Dive and the Virtual Scuba Diving Simulator. All you need is a computer.

The original text also includes HTML tags for headings, subheadings, and paragraphs, as well as an unordered list. These tags should be preserved in the rewritten text.


1. How long can the average person hold their breath underwater?

The average person can hold their breath underwater for around 30 seconds to 1 minute. However, this can vary depending on factors such as lung capacity, physical fitness, and training. With practice and proper techniques, it is possible to extend the breath-holding time.

2. What are some techniques to increase breath-holding time underwater?

Some techniques to increase breath-holding time underwater include diaphragmatic breathing, relaxation exercises, and gradual training. Diaphragmatic breathing involves filling your lungs with air by expanding your diaphragm rather than shallow chest breathing. Relaxation exercises such as meditation and yoga can also help calm the mind and body, enabling longer breath-holding. Gradual training involves practicing breath-holding in a safe and controlled environment, gradually increasing the duration over time.

3. Can holding your breath underwater be dangerous?

Holding your breath underwater can be dangerous if not done properly. It is important to never push your limits and always practice in a safe environment with a buddy. Shallow-water blackout, also known as hypoxic blackout, can occur when a person holds their breath for too long and the oxygen levels in their body become dangerously low. This can lead to loss of consciousness and drowning. It is crucial to understand the risks and always prioritize safety when practicing breath-holding underwater.

4. Are there any benefits to practicing breath-holding underwater?

Practicing breath-holding underwater can have several benefits. It can improve lung capacity and efficiency by training the respiratory muscles. It also helps develop mental focus and control as it requires concentration and relaxation. Additionally, breath-holding exercises can be used as a form of stress relief and relaxation. However, it is important to remember that practicing breath-holding should always be done safely and within personal limits.

5. Can anyone learn to hold their breath for a long time underwater?

While anyone can learn to hold their breath for a longer time underwater, the duration will vary among individuals. Factors such as lung capacity, physical fitness, and overall health can affect an individual’s ability to hold their breath for an extended period. However, with proper training and practice, most people can significantly improve their breath-holding time underwater.

6. Can holding your breath underwater help with swimming or diving?

Holding your breath underwater can be beneficial for swimming and diving. By training the respiratory muscles and improving lung capacity, it can enhance overall swimming performance. It also allows divers to stay submerged for longer periods without having to surface for air. However, it is crucial to receive proper training and guidance to ensure safety and avoid any potential risks associated with breath-holding underwater in aquatic activities.

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