Five-Minute Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training Lower Blood Pressure as Well as Exercise & Meds
Working out just five minutes daily via High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST), a practice described as "strength training for your breathing muscles," lowers blood pressure and improves some measures of vascular health as well as, or even more than, aerobic exercise or medication.
The study, published in JAMA from University of Colorado, Boulder, is evidence that this ultra-time-efficient maneuver could play a key role in helping aging adults fend off cardiovascular disease.
Developed in the 1980s as a way to help critically ill respiratory disease patients strengthen their diaphragm and other inspiratory (breathing) muscles, IMST involves inhaling vigorously through a hand-held device which provides resistance. Imagine sucking hard through a tube that sucks back.
High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training Findings
For the new study, researchers recruited 36 otherwise healthy adults ages 50 to 79 with above normal systolic blood pressure (120 millimeters of mercury or higher). Half did High-Resistance IMST for six weeks and half did a placebo protocol in which the resistance was much lower.
After six weeks, the IMST group saw their systolic blood pressure (the top number) dip nine points on average, a reduction which generally exceeds that achieved by walking 30 minutes a day five days a week.
That decline is also equal to the effects of some blood pressure-lowering drug regimens.
Even six weeks after they quit doing IMST, the IMST group maintained most of that improvement.
The treatment group also saw a 45% improvement in vascular endothelial function, or the ability for arteries to expand upon stimulation, and a significant increase in levels of nitric oxide, a molecule key for dilating arteries and preventing plaque buildup. Nitric oxide levels naturally decline with age.
Markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, which can also boost heart attack risk, were significantly lower after people did IMST.
Craighead DH, Heinbockel TC, Freeberg KA, Rossman MJ, Jackman RA, Jankowski LR, Hamilton MN, Ziemba BP, Reisz JA, D'Alessandro A, Brewster LM, DeSouza CA, You Z, Chonchol M, Bailey EF, Seals DR. Time-Efficient Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Endothelial Function, NO Bioavailability, and Oxidative Stress in Midlife/Older Adults With Above-Normal Blood Pressure. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Jul 6;10(13):e020980. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.020980. Epub 2021 Jun 29. PMID: 34184544.
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