Saturday, April 30, 2011

Static apnea

On Tuesday we will start our physiology section and Claudia will be talking about respiration. To get you pumped up (pun intended) I thought I'd post this video of what I only just discovered was a sport - static apnea. Basically this is floating face down in a swimming pool whilst holding your breath - quite possibly the most boring sport in the world to watch (it makes cricket look exciting) but physiologically quite interesting. For example if you watch the video you'll notice a demonstration of what I think is glossopharyngeal insuffation - this is a method of pumping additional air into the lungs widely used by reptiles and amphibians (picture a frogs bulging neck) but not by humans. Until a few decades ago when free divers discovered that by using the tongue as a piston an additional liter or so of air can be forced into the lungs. Don't try this at home though, rupturing the lung is a real possibility unless you work up to it.

How long can you hold your breath? A minute? A minute and a half?

What do you think the world record is. Four minutes? Five minutes? TEN minutes? Think again.

Curiously the techniques involved don't involve keeping the brain alive without oxygen, that's simply not possible, but getting oxygen to the brain even though you aren't breathing


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