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This Breathing Exercise Offers Benefits Equal to a 30 Minute Walk

A woman taking a deep breath in a forest.
Yolya Ilyasova/Shutterstock

Those looking to lower their blood pressure easily and naturally might have a new method to explore: breathing exercises.

According to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, a specific form of breathing exercise could help lower blood pressure and improve your vascular health overall.

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.”

Although the group is working on developing an app to help people with their IMST routine, the method and the technology has been around since the 1980s and you can easily find resistance-breathing tools online. Here’s an example of an inexpensive resistance device you can purchase off Amazon. But, as always, consult with your doctor before implementing new exercise or health routines.
And if you’re looking for other simple lifestyle changes, check out some of our articles on topics like walking, dietary changes, or even something unique like forest bathing.
Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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