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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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