Those looking to lower their blood pressure easily and naturally might have a new method to explore: breathing exercises.
The technique, known as High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST), features heavy inhalation through a hand-held device that gives resistance as you breathe in. The study examined 36 adults between the ages of 50-79 with high systolic blood pressure (above 120). The adults were split into two groups. The first did the breathing exercises for six weeks, and the second did a placebo version. Those who did the IMST exercises saw decreased systolic blood pressure by an average of nine points, the equivalent of walking 30 minutes per day five days a week. In addition to the decrease in blood pressure, overall vascular health improved and they had a boost in nitric oxide, which helps arteries dilate and prevents plaque buildup.
The lead author of the study and professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Daniel Craighead, explains that the findings could represent an important step in helping more people access ways to improve their cardiovascular health. He says in a press release, “There are a lot of lifestyle strategies we know can help people maintain cardiovascular health as they age. But the reality is, they take a lot of time and effort and can be expensive and hard for some people to access. IMST can be done in five minutes in your own home while you watch TV.”