It is taught right from preschool that breathing is essential for maintaining life as it supplies the body with the amount of oxygen it needs to function. However, you gain positive effects from holding your breath for some seconds or a few minutes. In this article, you will find what happens to your body when you hold your breath, including the health benefits.
It is crucial we first know what happens when we breathe. The process of breathing in is called inhalation while breathing out is called exhalation. When you breathe through your nose or mouth, the air travels from your windpipe or trachea to your bronchial tubes and then through smaller air passages called bronchioles before ending up in alveoli which are little tiny sacs where oxygen goes into the blood and then distributed throughout the body cells.
In the same vein, when you exhale, the alveoli absorb the carbon dioxide released by your cross, and they pass from your body using the same pathway right to your nose.
Carbon dioxide isn’t as harmful as we think; it is essential in regulating blood ph. Breathing too fast can lead to surplus oxygen and low carbon dioxide in your body. This often happens during hyperventilation and may lead to the development of a medical condition called respiratory alkalosis, which occurs when the blood pH is pushed beyond the normal range due to excessive respiration, leading to reduced carbon dioxide in arterial levels.
Low carbon dioxide levels in the body can cause spasms, dizziness, irritability, and nausea as your cells can’t exchange it for the surplus oxygens in your blood cells. On this note, it is medically beneficial that you practice holding of breath (breath training) because it gives your cell more time to let in oxygen and increases the needed amount of carbon dioxide to regulate respiration.
Benefits of Holding Your Breath
Besides regulating the number of oxygens and carbon dioxide in your body cells, the following are the health benefits of holding your breath.
1. Improves longevity
The practice of holding breath has been linked to longevity. When you hold your breath, it improves your lung functions, which helps preserve the health of stem cells. One research suggested that longevity rates increased when study participants could increase their ability to hold their breath after an exhalation.
2. Enhances brain tissue regeneration
Holding your breath improves brain tissue regeneration, as studies have pointed out as one of the benefits of practicing breathing techniques.
3. Produces an anti-inflammatory effect
Research has found that the practice of holding your breath can stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and the immune system to induce the production of anti-inflammatory mediators. It helps to treat health conditions associated with pain and chronic inflammation. Another study showed that holding your breath increase the body’s resistance to bacterial infections.
4. Increases lung capacity
The practice of holding your breath as a part of a breathing exercise is viewed as the most effective way to enhance your lung capacity. This, in turn, contributes immensely to your physical performance. This is mainly practiced by performing artists, surfers, swimmers, runners, and wind instrument musicians.
5. Reduce stress and anxiety
Holding your breath is one of the ways to manage your stress and induce your body to relax. It also helps to deal with anxiety and panic attacks. Breathing exercises can help people with chronic anxiety to manage the symptoms.
Breath Training Exercises Can Improve Your Health
Now that you have learn the health benefits of holding breath, you need to also learn the best ways to implement it. You should not just randomly hold your breath for as long as you can, because it can be dangerous. Here is a simple exercise that involves holding your breath.
- Inhale slowly through your nostrils.
- Hold your breath for ten seconds.
- Pout your lips
- Breathe out as slowly as possible through your pouted lips. This should take at least twice as long as it did to breathe in.
- Repeat it a few times.