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Can You Breathe While Skydiving?


Skydiving and Breathing at the Same Time, Can you do it?

Golly — you’d better breathe while you’re skydiving! After about a minute of freefall and between five and seven minutes flying a parachute, holding your breath would start to get pretty old. We’re not free diving up here, friends. Indeed, you can breathe while skydiving. Even in freefall, hurtling at speeds up to 160miles per hour, you can breathe. There’s no real trick to it; breathing while you’re skydiving is just like breathing while you’re running, while you’re swimming, or while you’re singing. Here’s what you need to know.

Don’t Forget To Inhale

Jumping out of the door of an airplane in flight is a little — well — distracting. It’s no wonder that so many first-timers forget to breathe when they’re perched in the door! You can bet that, with so many new sounds, sensations and stimulations all around you, the basics (y’know — like getting oxygen into your airbags) might fall a little bit down your list of attentional priorities.

We’ve been doing this a long time, so we understand that the struggle is real. To get you back into the habit of inhaling, exhaling, rinsing and repeating, we tell each of our first-time tandem students to yell like crazy when they exit the plane. It’s the same trick a baby uses to fill its lungs after being born — that primal scream forces the student to take a deep breath and acclimate. Boom!

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Get A Little Extra

Here’s another hot tip to get you oxygenated in the wild blue yonder: breathe more! Scientifically speaking, the concentration of oxygen at the altitude from which we jump at Skydive California (about 13,500’) registers approximately 40% lower than the concentration of oxygen on the ground. Don’t worry about passing out — that amount of oxygen is sufficient to hold you over for the amount of time you’ll be up there, which isn’t long, and you wouldn’t require supplemental oxygen unless you were planning to jump from another 1,500 feet higher up.

That said: As we mentioned before, the concentration of oxygen is lower, so try breathing deeper. It feels more comfortable, more calming and more meditative if you focus on trying to breathe about 40% more deeply. Scientific? Naw. Comforting in an intense moment? Yes indeed.

Get Deeper as You Get Higher

As the excitement of the skydive ramps up (usually as the altimeter on your instructor’s wrist ticks steadily upward in the plane), your breathing is likely too shallow. For all the reasons we just explained, don’t let it! Keep your body out of the shallow-breathing panic mode.

It might help you to think of deep breathing as a responsibility to yourself. Make no mistake: as a tandem student you are not a “passenger.” You are a skydiver. As such, you’re accepting the challenge of directing your own experience, which means your instructor can’t breathe for you. It’s on you to breathe deeply and regularly.

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Need a hint? Take this one straight from the yoga mat: inhale for six counts, hold that breath in for four counts, exhale for six counts, hold it out for four counts. Repeat. Try to consciously relax the muscles as they tighten in your hands and face. By the time the door opens, you’ll be full of oxygen and ready to rock.

Will your first skydive will take your breath away? Yes! But not literally, especially if you follow this guide. We’re looking forward to showing you how deep a breath of fresh air our sport can be!

Related Article: What to Expect When Tandem Skydiving

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