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Top 10 facts about breathing

This is Breathe Easy Week, organised to promote lung health and fight against air pollution.


1. Research has shown that slow, deep breathing can reduce anxiety.

2. An average adult breathes in about 13 pints of air every minute.

3. Inhaled air is about 78 per cent nitrogen, 21 per cent oxygen, about 0.04 per cent carbon dioxide and one per cent other gases.

4. Exhaled air is about 78 per cent nitrogen, 16 per cent oxygen, four per cent carbon dioxide plus the other gases and water vapour.

5. Women breath slightly faster than men on average.

6. In 2015, researchers found that women’s respiratory muscles, which are those needed for breathing, require more oxygen than men’s.

7. Plato wrote that newborn babies begin by breathing out; Aristotle said they breathe in.

8. In most people, the left lung is smaller than the right lung to leave room for the heart.

9. In 2012, German freediver Tom Sietas held his breath underwater for a record 22 minutes and 22 seconds.

10. In general, people can hold their breath twice as long underwater as they can on land.

Mwiza Rita

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