Space & Innovation

What Holding Your Breath Does To Your Body

Is holding your breath bad for you? And did you know that you can hold it longer underwater than you can on land?

For children of a certain age, holding your breath can be both a recreational activity and a form of protest. But it's really not good for you. The body basically panics when you hold your breath, and recent studies suggest that making a habit of the practice can cause brain damage.

The good news is that humans – and maybe all vertebrates – have a kind of "safe mode" that kicks in when the body isn't getting enough oxygen. Your heart rate slows and oxygen is shuttled to the vital organs. However, a study of free divers by the American Physiological Society suggests that repeatedly holding your breath generates a protein associated with brain damage. Amy Shira-Teitel has the details in today's DNews report.

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Read More:

Smithsonian: Ask Smithsonian: What's The Longest You Can Hold Your Breath?

Livestrong: Why Do I Feel Lightheaded When Bodybuilding?

Scientific American: How The Dive Reflex Extends Breath-Holding