Published on: April 13, 2019
by Sci News:
An ultra time-efficient exercise may lower your blood pressure and boost brain function.
A five-minute workout called Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) lowers blood pressure in middle-aged to older adults; it also improves artery function and scores on memory tests, according to new research.
IMST is basically strength-training for the muscles you breathe in with. It’s something you can do quickly in your home or office, without having to change your clothes, and so far it looks like it is very beneficial to lower blood pressure and possibly boost cognitive and physical performance,” said Dr. Daniel Craighead, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder.
IMST, developed in the 1980s as a mean to wean critically ill people off ventilators, involves breathing in vigorously through a hand-held device — an inspiratory muscle trainer — which provides resistance.
During early use in patients with lung diseases, patients performed a 30-minute, low-resistance regimen daily to boost their lung capacity.
But in 2016, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona published results from a trial to see if just 30 inhalations per day with greater resistance might help sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea, who tend to have weak breathing muscles.
In addition to more restful sleep, subjects showed an unexpected side effect after six weeks: their systolic blood pressure plummeted by 12 mm of mercury. That’s about twice as much of a decrease as aerobic exercise can yield and more than many medications deliver.
“That’s when we got interested,” said University of Colorado Boulder’s Professor Doug Seals, lead author of the project.
“Our goal is to develop time-efficient, evidence-based interventions that those busy mid-life adults will actually perform.”
In several experiments, Dr. Craighead, Professor Seals and co-authors found significant drops in blood pressure and improvements in large-artery function among those participants who performed IMST with no changes in those who used a sham breathing device that delivered low-resistance. The IMST group was also better on certain cognitive and memory tests.
When asked to exercise to exhaustion, participants were also able to stay on the treadmill longer and keep their heart rate and oxygen consumption lower during exercise.
“High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death in America,” Dr. Craighead said.
“Having another option in the toolbox to help prevent it would be a real victory.”
Photo: A volunteer demonstrates Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training. Image credit: University of Colorado Boulder.
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