The 5-minute-a-day breathing exercise everyone over 30 should do

This Workout Lowers Blood Pressure As Effectively As Drugs

The regular practice of exercise , together with a balanced diet , is essential to keep cardiovascular diseases at bay. However, beyond traditional physical activity, such as running, walking or strength exercises, science is discovering alternative ways to take care of our hearts. For example, a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that taking a hot bath or saunamay have similar heart health benefits as low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Other recent research, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that people over the age of 50 could lose weight while performing meditative martial arts such as Tai Thi .

Now, a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder has found that a simple breathing exercise can help lower blood pressure and support vascular health. This is high resistance Inspiratory Muscular Strength Training (IMST).

IMST is basically strength training for your breathing muscles. Developed in the 1980s for those suffering from respiratory problems , it involves breathing vigorously into a portable device, called an inspiratory muscle trainer , that provides resistance. “Imagine sucking strongly through a tube that is pulled back ,” the authors explain.

Researchers became interested in exercise after learning the results of a 2016 trial in patients with obstructive sleep apnea . They tested whether higher-resistance training consisting of just 30 breaths a day could help these subjects rest better. In addition to experiencing more restful sleep and strengthening the diaphragm and other inspiratory muscles, the subjects experienced another unexpected effect: their systolic blood pressure plummeted .

The new study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, sought to test the efficacy of higher-intensity IMST in people of all ages and lifestyles. The researchers recruited 128 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 82. Subjects performed between 5 and 10 minutes of “high-endurance” IMST for six weeks .

Two weeks later, the scientists began recording improvements in the participants’ blood pressure . At the end of the study, they had a 9-point drop in their systolic blood pressure , “a reduction equal to the effects of some blood pressure-lowering drug regimens ,” they add.

The researchers, who had previously studied IMST’s effects for people over 50 , were surprised to find that it appears to benefit young, healthy participants as well. “You can start training in your thirties and keep it up to help delay or prevent high blood pressure.”

Furthermore, they found that even six weeks after stopping training, the subjects maintained most of that improvement. “We found that it is not only more time-efficient than traditional exercise programs, but the benefits can be more long-lasting,” said Daniel Craighead , a research assistant professor in CU Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology.

Markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, which increase the risk of heart attack, were significantly lower after training. People who underwent the treatment also achieved a 45% improvement in vascular endothelial function , which is the ability of arteries to expand under stimulation, and a significant increase in levels of nitric oxide, a key molecule for dilating arteries. arteries and prevent plaque formation.

The training also showed better performance on certain memory and cognitive tests. Regarding sports performance , participants were asked to exercise to exhaustion. They stayed on the treadmill longer and kept their heart rate and oxygen consumption lower during exercise.

It should be noted that IMST is not intended to be a substitute for traditional exercise at all. Rather, it’s meant to be a supplemental exercise, an activity you can do to help your respiratory system and your cardiovascular system. As Craighead points out, you can do it at home “in five minutes while watching TV” .

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