New research by the Univ. of Colorado at Boulder shows how just 5 minutes a day practicing a procedure called strength training for your breathing muscles can improve a persons health dramatically. It can lower blood pressure as well as improve some measures of vascular health. It can also do this as well as medication or even aerobic exercise.
The exercise, known as IMST or high-resistance muscle strength training can help older adults stave off cardiovascular disease. In the U.S. adults over 50 exhibit above normal blood pressure 65% of the time, contributing to a greater risk of stroke or heart attack, the nation’s leading killers. But only 40% and below actually meet the recommended aerobic exercise guidelines.
A lot of people just don’t get the exercise they need as they age whether from time, effort, expense and/or accessibility. To strengthen their diaphragm muscles IMST can be used. It was developed in the 80’s to help patients with critical respiratory disease. With a hand-held device they can inhale vigorously. As they suck resistance is given back, therefore strengthening the diaphragm muscles. It can be done in only 5 minutes a day from a person’s own home just sitting and watching tv.
The research team has been testing a protocol that uses less inhalations per day for 6 days a week at a high resistance to see if improvements in cardiovascular performance could be maintained. They were hoping this would also help cognitive and sports performance. The study involved 36 adults that had above normal blood pressure between the ages of 50 and 79 and were otherwise healthy. Half of the group used the IMST at a high resistance for 6 weeks and the other half used a placebo with the resistance much lower.
The results supported that the group using the IMST improved their blood pressure by 9 points on average. This is equivalent to walking 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week and also mirrors the same results of some blood pressure medications. The benefits extended at least 6 weeks after they had not used the ISMT, therefore, showing the improvements were maintained longer than an exercise routine. The participants also stayed with the IMST protocol 95% of the time, making it more attractive than exercise.
The researchers are not sure why strengthening a person’s diaphragm muscles lowers blood pressure, but theorizes that it causes nitric oxide to be produced, enabling the cells lining blood vessels to relax.
If a person is considering using the ISMT device, they should consult with their doctor first. But so far, it has shown remarkable results and is safe. It has a lot of potential to help people in a way that is easy and takes a limited amount of time.
To view the original scientific study click below:
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