Breathing Test #2 – Hold Your Breath

The two exercises below are about holding your breath. How long you can hold your breath, after exhalation, is an indication of your health status. The shorter the time you can hold your breath, the poorer your health. You will notice that your ability to hold your breath increases when you relax, not when you tense up.


Exercise 1 –

Hold your breath while sitting

NOTE! Your mouth shall remain closed during the entire exercise.

  • Step 1. Sit down in an upright position, with your back straight, and relax for a couple of minutes. Take a small breath in and a small breath out, in a calm way through your nose (approx. 2-3 seconds on inhalation and approx. 2-3 seconds on exhalation.)
  • Step 2. Pinch your nose after the exhalation is finished and hold your breath and start the timer.
  • Step 3. When you feel the first urge to breathe, let go of your nose, stop the timer and breathe in and out calmly through your nose, in the same way as in step 1.

If you are inhaling forcefully in step 3 you have held your breath for too long, which is quite common in today’s society where a lot of focus is placed on performing. When you feel the urge to breathe in step 3, you may experience swallow reflexes or feel that your diaphragm is pushed down involuntarily. When this occurs it is time to stop the timer and note the number of seconds. Scroll down to interpret your result.

Exercise 2 –

Hold your breath while walking

NOTE! Your mouth shall remain closed during the entire exercise.

    • Step 1. Sit down in an upright position, with your back straight, and relax for a few minutes.
    • Step 2. Stand up and take a small breath in and a small breath out in a calm way through your nose (approx. 2-3 seconds on inhalation and approx. 2-3 seconds on exhalation).
    • Step 3. Pinch your nose after the exhalation is finished and hold your breath and start walking while counting the number of steps you take.
    • Step 4. When you are not able to hold your breath any longer, let go of your nose, inhale and exhale calmly through your nose and note how many steps you took. Try to wind down by breathing calmly as soon as possible.


The connection between our

breath holding ability and our health status

These two exercises help you to assess how good or poor your breathing patterns are, along with how well you are able to tolerate carbon dioxide. You can learn more about how it works in the article, Carbon Dioxide Pressure More Important than Blood Pressure.

In addition it should be noted that it is possible to increase your ability to hold your breath through training. Therefore, if you are a free diver or have sleep apnea (holding your breath at night) the results of doing the two exercises will most likely not be accurate.

The exercises above and the table below were developed by Konstantin Buteyko, the Russian MD and professor who spent fifty years of his life helping tens of thousands of people to improve their breathing.

Health status Hold breath sitting Hold breath walking
No symptoms, optimum health 60 seconds 120+ steps
Very good health, most symptoms are completely gone 40 seconds 80-100 steps
Good health, symptoms present when exposed to a trigger 30 seconds 60-80 steps
Symptoms are often present 20 seconds 40-60 steps
Many different symptoms always present 10 seconds 20-40 steps
Medications, diseases, very heavy breathing 3-5 seconds 10-20 steps
Dead 0 seconds 0 steps

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