A simple test to check your breathing health

Do you struggle with asthma, hay fever, snoring, sleep apnoea, anxiety, panic attacks, poor sleep, chronic cough, chronic fatigue … ? You’re not alone.

In fact, these conditions are endemic these days, and many people don’t see long-lasting results from adding supplements, getting extra sleep, dietary changes, physical exercise or any of the other ‘tricks’ they try to improve things. Few consider the role that breathing could be playing in their health issues.

Try this test

Do this simple test if you’d like to see whether dysfunctional breathing could be causing or contributing to your condition. It’s called the Control Pause Test and it provides valuable insight into your breathing health.

Follow these steps.

  1. Take a normal breath in through your nose and allow a normal breath out through your nose. Don’t empty and fill your lungs beforehand.
  2. Gently pinch your nostrils shut and hold your breath.Nicky pinches both nostrils to do the Pause Control breathing test.
  3. Count the number of seconds until you feel the first definite desire to breathe, or the first stresses of your body urging you to breathe. This may feel like a push in your diaphragm or a push in your throat.
    Don’t push your body to your absolute breath-hold limit — hold just until the first desire to breathe.
  4. Release and resume normal breathing through your nose. 

Your breathing should be the same as it was before the pause — normal and calm. If you have to take a large breath, you held it too long.

What the results tell you

How many seconds did you get?

Here’s the bottom line:

  • A healthy, vital, energetic person should be able to comfortably hold their breath with no respiratory sensations for at least 40 seconds.
  • If you got less than 25 seconds, you are likely to have dysfunctional breathing, sub-optimal cellular oxygenation and  poor health.

Good breathing supports good health

You may not know it, but our breathing habits are a major key to health, immunity and good energy levels. And dysfunctional breathing is the underlying cause of many common health problems. It doesn’t matter what you eat or how much you exercise, or how many supplements you take, if your breathing health is poor you will struggle.

How to get help

If you would like to look further into the link between your breathing and health, book in with us for a 60-minute breathing asssessment.

Contact us

Breathing assessments

Further reading

The Art of Breathing

The nose — use it or lose it


Nicky McLeod, BA, MBIBH, Breathing Educator and Director of The Breathing Clinic, Nelson

Nicky McLeod — Breathing Clinic Nelson


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