July 8, 2021 – The demands of everyday life often prevent people from getting enough physical exercise. But according to a new study, it only takes 5 minutes of breathing exercises, 6 days a week, to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
The study, published on June 29 in the Journal of the American Heart Association, shows that high resistance inspiratory muscle force training (IMST) – described by the authors as “strength training for your respiratory muscles” – can help fend off some of the biggest killers in the United States.
IMST, first developed in the 1980s to help people with severe respiratory illnesses, involves inhaling using a portable device that offers resistance. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found that it could help heart health just as much, if not more, than aerobic exercise.
“We know there are many lifestyle strategies that can help people maintain their cardiovascular health as they age. But the reality is they take a lot of time and effort and can be expensive and difficult to access for some people, ”said senior author Daniel Craighead, PhD, assistant research professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology, in a press release. “IMST can be done in five minutes in your own home while you are watching TV. “
About 65% of adults over 50 in the United States have high blood pressure, which makes heart attacks and strokes more likely. But less than 40% meet the aerobic exercise guidelines recommended by the CDC.
Study participants included 36 adults aged 50 to 79, all with high blood pressure. Half received a high resistance IMST for 5 minutes, 6 days a week. The other half had a lower resistance placebo program.
After 6 weeks, the treatment group saw their systolic blood pressure – the highest number – drop by nine points on average. This reduction is comparable to the effects of blood pressure medications and exceeds the effects of walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, the researchers found.
The study authors also observed a 45% improvement in vascular endothelial function – at which point arteries can dilate.
In addition, there was slightly less inflammation and oxidative stress, which are risk factors for heart attacks.
“We have identified a new form of therapy that lowers blood pressure without giving people pharmacological compounds and with much higher grip than aerobic exercise,” said senior author Doug Seals, PhD, distinguished professor of physiology integrative to university, in the press release. . “It’s amazing.”
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