5 Minute Breath Workout Can Lower Blood Pressure Better Than Exercise, Medication
BOULDER, Colorado – A five-minute workout that scientists call “strength training your respiratory muscles” is found to lower blood pressure as well, if not better, than traditional exercise and prescription drugs. Researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder say this revolutionary exercise uses a hand-held device that provides resistance as the user breathes. Simply put, when you suck in air, the tube tries to suck it back in.
Researchers call this technique high resistance inspiratory muscle force training (IMST). Although doctors in the past have recommended that patients with breathing problems use these devices on low power for about 30 minutes, new study finds that a five-minute burst at high intensity can improve cardiovascular health in people. elderly.
In the United States, estimates show that nearly two-thirds of people over the age of 50 have high blood pressure. This puts many of them at risk for heart disease, heart attack, or stroke. What’s more, researchers say less than half of those Americans get enough exercise to improve their condition.
“We know there are many lifestyle strategies that can help people maintain cardiovascular health as they age. But the reality is that they take a lot of time and effort and can be expensive and difficult to access for some people, ”says lead author Daniel Craighead in a university outing. “IMST can be done in five minutes in your own home while you are watching TV. “
A workout without training?
Scientists initially developed IMST in the 1980s to help critically ill patients cope with respiratory illnesses. By inhaling vigorously through the device, a patient can strengthen their diaphragm and other respiratory muscles with the resistance that IMST creates in the body.
Unlike low-level workouts for sick patients, the study authors looked at a group of 36 healthy adults aged 50 to 79. These participants all had systolic blood pressure (the top number) above the normal level of 120 mm / Hg. During the study, half of those adults took 30 high-resistance inhalations per day six days a week for six weeks. The other half did a “placebo” exercise, with a much lower resistance setting on the machine.
The results show that participants in the IMST group saw their systolic blood pressure drop by nine points on average. According to the researchers, this type of improvement is generally better than what hypertensive patients see when walking for 30 minutes a day five days a week. The study found that the results of IMST were even comparable to those of some hypotensive drugs prescribed to patients.
Perhaps more importantly, the study’s authors found that people with IMST saw their blood pressure stay low even after stopping breathing exercises for six weeks.
“We have found that not only is it faster than traditional exercise programs, but the benefits can be longer lasting,” adds Craighead.
Additionally, IMST patients experienced a 45% improvement in vascular endothelial function – or the ability of arteries to dilate. Participants also had a significant increase in their nitric oxide levels, which is key to dilating arteries and preventing plaque buildup. The team adds markers for inflammation and decreased oxidative stress.
A better alternative for older women?
The study finds that this rapid breathing training can be a great alternative to exercise for one group in particular – postmenopausal women.
The lab of lead author Doug Seals found that postmenopausal women taking supplemental estrogen do not experience the benefits of aerobic exercise as much as older men. This is especially true for vascular endothelial function. The new report finds that using IMST helps these women as much as the male participants.
“If aerobic exercise doesn’t improve this key measure of cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women, they need another lifestyle intervention that will,” Craighead said. “It could be that.”
In addition to strengthening a patient’s breathing, researchers say early results show IMST also has an impact on the user’s brain function and overall fitness.
“If you run a marathon, your respiratory muscles tire and start stealing blood from your skeletal muscles,” says Craighead, assistant research professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology. “The idea is that if you build the endurance of those respiratory muscles, it won’t happen and your legs won’t be as tired.”
As of yet, it is still unclear exactly how IMST directly helps lower blood pressure. The team suspects that this type of resistance training triggers the cells that line the blood vessels to produce more nitric oxide. This allows a user to relax.
“It’s easy to do, it doesn’t take long and we think it has a lot of potential to help a lot of people,” concludes Craighead.
The results appear in the Journal of the American Heart Association.