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Humans can hold their breath longer than “

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2008

Humans can hold their breath longer than “theoretical predictions” but magician David Blaine will soon attempt to break the world record for pure-oxygen apnea.

In his current training, he said, he does exercises every morning in which he breathes for no more than 12 minutes over the course of an hour, and he sleeps in a hypoxic tent in his Manhattan apartment that simulates the thin air at 15,000 feet above sea level.

He has been concentrating on lowering his oxygen consumption by slowing his metabolism, partly through diet (he fasted for 18 hours before the breath-hold in the pool) and partly through relaxation. In a test by Dr. Potkin, Mr. Blaine on command quickly lowered his heart rate by 25 percent.

“David seems to have a phenomenal ability, like Buddhist monks, to control his body,” Dr. Potkin said.

The author of the piece did some breath-holding training and was able to hold his breath for almost 4 minutes after about an hour of training.

And I didn’t appreciate how much progress free divers and their coaches have made at pushing the limits of human endurance until Mr. Blaine put my time in perspective. “Houdini used to brag about going three and a half minutes underwater,” Mr. Blaine said. “Look at how easily you beat Houdini.”

(via frontal cortex)