Hold Your Breath: Surprising Tips on Increasing Lung Capacity

Hold Your Breath: Surprising Tips on Increasing Lung Capacity

Whether you want to breathe less while swimming, better your running endurance, or just want to show off to friends at a party, increasing your lung capacity can benefit you.

birthday party blowing out candles

Kiwi Morado via Flickr

 

While no one can increase the physical size of their lungs, it is possible to train them to be more efficient in taking in and using oxygen. This allows a person to breathe in more air and hold it longer. Increased lung efficiency also leads to a healthier lifestyle because the body can better use the oxygen it takes in.

Training on it’s own may not be very entertaining, so use a waterproof iPod and headphones to help you out. Try the Swimbuds Sport headphones from Underwateraudio.com. These waterproof headphones offer great sound quality, and come with a variety of tips to find that perfect fit for a watertight seal and comfort.

 

Now, everyone’s lung size and maximum capacity varies so you may never be able to hold your breath for as long as someone else, but it is possible for you to improve. Here are a few tricks and exercises you can use in your quest to increase your lung capacity.

 

In…2…3… Out…2…3…

One of the simplest ways to build up lung efficiency is through breathing exercises. These are great because they don’t take a lot of time to complete and most don’t require anything but yourself and air.

*You should start light on these exercises and then slowly increase because too much too fast can lead to light-headedness.

 

One of the most popular exercises is pursed/pinched lip breathing. To do this, inhale as much air as you can through your nose. This should cause your abdominal muscles to push out. Then, exhale slowly with your lips pursed so there is only a very small hole for the air to escape through. This will make a hissing sound and should take about twice as long as inhaling, putting pressure on your chest.

 

Another simple exercise is simply breathing deeply. To do this, breathe in as deeply as you can and then count to 20 (or as close as you can get to that). Then exhale slowly. Repeat this several times. Over time, you should be able to hold your breath for a longer count.

 

Some exercises you can do with a simple prop, such as blowing up a balloon in one breath repeatedly. The balloon creates resistance for you to work against.

 

 

 

There is also a candle exercise. Place a lit candle closely in front of you and slowly exhale a stream of air until the candle goes out. The key to this exercise is to exhale slowly and not in a puff. Once you get good at this, you can start moving the candle further away, where it will take more air to blow out.

 

 

Go Higher

One good way to increase lung efficiency is to exercise at higher altitudes. The higher you go, the less oxygen there is in the air. This forces your lungs to use the oxygen they can get more efficiently. It does take a little while to accustom yourself to the change, and if you go too fast you may develop altitude sickness, so be careful.

 

Once you do adjust, working out in lower altitudes is a piece of cake. The down side? The benefits only last about two weeks, and then your lungs get used to the increased oxygen content again.

While some athletes are dedicated enough to live in higher altitudes for the duration of their training and only come down for races or meets (sounds like the beginning of a ninja movie…), it’s not for everyone.

 

Work Harder

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not saying your not working hard already, but to really get your lungs more efficient, make them work harder.

 

Participating in sports that require stamina can do this. Another good way is aerobics. Even better is water aerobics. Since water is thicker than air, you have to work harder to move through it, including your lungs moving in and out. The increased resistance again forces your lungs to work harder and adjust to using air more efficiently.

 

You can also do yoga. Yoga is a very breathing-focused exercise and is a good way to learn breath control.

 

Make Music

Singing or playing an instrument requires good breath control because every time the exhaling stops, so does the sound. Not to mention volume and sound quality control. Taking singing lessons or learning to play a wind instrument (trombone, trumpet, clarinet, flute) can greatly help to increase your lung capacity. If you want an additional challenge, you could even join a marching band, which would require playing the instrument while moving around.

 

Your Thoughts

How long can you hold your breath?

 

Do you have any tricks for holding your breath longer?

About the author

shawna

» More blog posts by shawna

19

19

comments

    Jan 06
    2014

    Caleb

    I’ve heard taking deep breathes of cold air from the freezer and holding it will stretch your lungs. As your body warms the cold air it expands in your chest and stretches muscles and lungs. Thoughts?

    Reply
      Nov 20
      2015

      Tanisha

      This is really late but this tip will hopefully help me work further towards cracking the right vocals and aiming for my musical career.

      Reply
      Jun 04
      2016

      Viral

      Yes it is true.
      When you run in winter when the temperature is low u can feel that your chest is getting frozen or dryness in taking breaths.This makes it strong and adds resistance

      Reply
    Jan 25
    2014

    Andy

    True, but you may inhale a fish finger..

    Reply
    Feb 20
    2014

    Lukas

    Do you have any sources for this information? It would be quite useful for a project that me and a few friends are working on. 🙂

    Reply
    Jul 05
    2014

    caroline gunn

    When I was little my dad made me a swing out of an old rocking chair seat and chained it to the apple tree. Because of the shape it was wide not like the small narrow swings of today. I would swing all day in the holidays. Going forwards Id breath in leaning outwards, my rib cage would be stretched and open. As the swing moved back id lean back exhailing the back of my ribs streched open and upwards as I did so. My lung capacity was excellent. I would sing as I swung back and forth. At age 11 we had to Audition for the school play. We stood in Threes behind the head of music who played morning has broken on the piano, the hall was packed with people all quietly chatting. I decided instead of my usual mumbling to songs at school that Id sing like I did at home on my swing. The hall fell silent if Id stopped singing you could’ve heard a pin drop everyone was looking at me, mouths were dropping open in amazment and slowly the head of music was turning his head to see who was singing. I got stage fright and stopped singing and mumbled again. This was my moment of fame. Im now over 50, my lungs have endured smoking for years although Im a non smoker now. Id like to sing like I used to as a child, I miss my swing (Id look a bit silly on it now at my age), Im hoping your tips for exercise and breathing will help me regain my breath control. Thankyou.

    Reply
    Jul 26
    2014

    Nordlys

    How long can you hold your breath?

    Not much.
    1’20”. This make me think I’m not as healthy as I though (my main problems are lack of physical training (I’m starting that), weight (that is decreasing) and high rest heartbeat (that is decreasing as well ). They say average in healthy people is 2’00”. Maybe once I’ll be fit I may go for that.
    even if I haven’t meet any person that can go there. Most people I’ve meet went from 0’30” to 1’40”, but mysteriously people online claim to go for 2’30” to even 4’00”.

    Reply
      Feb 12
      2016

      Tom

      I am a young teenager and 6 months ago I started looking at YouTube videos and doing breathing exercises. Now I use the app iHoldBreath and I went from 50 seconds to 4 minutes.

      Reply
    Aug 12
    2014

    sam

    I practice holding my breath everyday, and have gotten up to 2:00 so far I hope I can continue to increase.

    Reply
    Feb 07
    2015

    Kashif Ansari

    holding your breath helps thin down a person too. and hyperventilation may also help to train your lungs in the art of breath control. finally letting the breath out completely is sooooo peaceful.

    Reply
    Feb 09
    2015

    Jeff

    I swim underwater and try to go further each session twice a week, reaching 41 metres.
    I read that breath-holding 5 times at 3 minute intervals extends the length by 38% and I find this helps.
    I have reached 3.5 and 4 minutes relaxing in bed before getting up which surprises me. Whilst swimming I can only last one minute.I tried checking the volume of air I could exhale, 4.25 litres.
    Now 70, I have always been active but never an athlete. Swimming. Singing, cycling and flute playing will have helped my lung capacity and health.
    I followed this topic to find out about health benefits as I have never read any studies.

    Reply
    Feb 13
    2015

    joecool

    Never hyperventilate! This will cause an imbalance between your co2 and o2 in your body, lowering your co2 beyond what’s normal. Without the normal levels of co2, your body will get the urge to breathe much later in the hold, and in turn you will be dangerously close to becoming hypoxic, if you aren’t already, and then lmc/ samba and lastly blackout and death. all of these can happen within seconds of each Other. research Breath holding for freediving.

    Reply
    Oct 22
    2015

    Dave Ishmael

    SWIM SWIM SWIM….the best cardio you can ever do without giving any strains to your joints. Swimming increases your stamina by expanding your lungs than a average person and also builds muscles in your heart that will lower your heat beat when you go on rest. Water treatment is always good for your body mind and soul.

    Reply
    Oct 25
    2015

    Daniel fay

    I am personally a competitive swimmer in high school. I use a variety of yoga techniques to train my breathing. Above water I can’t relax my muscles very well, which is key to any breath holding, but underwater I do great. I held my breath for 3:30 at ~12 ft. I could go longer, but since I was the only one lifeguard trained there I didn’t want to push it.

    Reply
    Nov 20
    2015

    Tanisha

    I am working on my vocals and i work on my breathing patterns. I inhale through my nose and count 1..2.. the out through my mouth and for my high and low pitched vocal my lungs can now expand enough for me to crack them. this is really useful if you want to aim towards musical careers.

    Reply
    Nov 23
    2015

    Eddie

    I beatbox everyday just for fun or when i’m bored in cyphers at home on the couch watching tv i think i owe my self a thank you for picking up this skill for no reason but now it serves a reason it’s entertainment and it increases my lung function

    Reply
    Mar 03
    2016

    Ally

    To respond to the guy who said about the greater O2 from breathing cold air, can anyone elaborate on this? I don’t understand the way it would work.

    Reply
      May 15
      2016

      Megan

      When cold air heats up, it expands so it stretches your lungs.

      Reply
      May 16
      2016

      Megan

      However, doing that does NOT increase your lung capacity, it just pops them.

      Reply

leave a comment