Benefits of Breathholding

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

Breathholding is something that humans have done throughout history and is a completely natural thing to do. We would have held our breath to drive down to the bottom of the sea in search of food as one natural example.

Breathholding these days, as we teach as part of the oxygen advantage technique, is used as a tool to help restore better tolerance to carbon dioxide which is affecting our breathing patterning and habits as well as better managing our stress response.

Our everyday lives that are riddled with low level stresses cause us to breathe faster and shallower. Breathing through the mouth is a classic example of this. The problem with short, shallow and fast breathing is that not only is it linked to our sympathetic stress response (fight or flight) it's also affected our sensitivity to carbon dioxide in the blood.

Carbon dioxide tolerance

When we over breathe we 'blow off' too much carbon dioxide and increasing our sensitivity to this 'waste gas' meaning we become less tolerant to the build up of it in our blood stream.

Carbon dioxide however is not just a 'waste gas'. It plays pivotal role in allowing haemoglobin to release it's affinity to oxygen so that the oxygen carried by red blood cells in our blood stream gets released into the cells where it's needed for the production energy - a process that happens in every single cell in your body.

Carbon dioxide is also the gas being monitored by the respiratory centre in the brain stem as the trigger for when to take our next breath. When carbon dioxide levels in the blood reach a certain level then the brain says 'time to take a breath' and we breathe. But most of us incorrectly thing we take a breathe in or have the desire to breathe because we need to take oxygen in. This is not the case in regards to the desire to take your next breath.

So when carbon dioxide tolerance is reduced from over breathing we have this two fold effect. We get less effective transfer of oxygen to the working cells, so we feel fatigue and like we need to breathe more and then we keep getting triggered to breathe more as our brain starts to tolerate lower levels of carbon dioxide - creating a negative snow ball effect of more over breathing.

Why breathholds

Breathholds are a great way to stop this cycle and change our tolerance to carbon dioxide to restore it back to efficient levels. The video below explain how you can get started using breath holds to improve your carbon dioxide tolerance and overall breathing patterns.

Effects of breathholds each day

So breathholding helps expose the body to evaluated levels of Caron dioxide in the blood to force adaptations to the sensitivity of those receptors in the respiratory centre of the brain. Helping us to tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide in the blood which helps us slow down our breathing rate to create calmer more relaxing breathing patterns and habits.

Just 5 medium to strong breath holds per day, building up to over 30 seconds in time - which tend to be about 60 steps walking, is all it takes.

Build up slowly and gradually and you'll be suprised at how much progress you can make.

For me I couldn't do 20 steps walking for about 10 seconds at the start. Now I've done 130+ steps and my breathing patterns have changed dramatically - its been life changing for me.

Interested in learning more about breath work and working with me as an oxygen advantage coach - click here.

Thanks for reading (and watching)


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