Breathing test

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. The exercises 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.

Exercise 1 - Hold your breath while sitting

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

  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.)
  2. Pinch your nose after the exhalation is finished and hold your breath and start the timer.
  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.

  1. Sit down in an upright position, with your back straight, and relax for a few minutes.
  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).
  3. Pinch your nose after the exhalation is finished and hold your breath and start walking while counting the number of steps you take.
  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.

These two exercises help you to assess how good or poor is your health, which is related to your breathing patterns, along with how well you are able to tolerate carbon dioxide. You can learn more about how it works in this article.

Here is what Dr. Buteyko found:

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

It is never too late to re-train your breathing pattern and CO2 tolerance. We offer plenty of insights and tools to improve. 

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