Breathe your way to better blood pressure? I know, it looks like a joke, right?
Well, as bonkers as it sounds, it’s 100 percent true. Researchers say you can significantly improve your blood pressure simply by breathing.
And before you say it, no, I’m NOT talking about taking calming breaths to reduce your stress levels. In fact, this method doesn’t have a darn thing to do with stress.
But that’s not even the wildest part of the story. The new study finds using this unique breathing technique, you could lower your blood pressure as much as you can if you were using exercise OR drugs.
And you can do it in as little as FIVE minutes a day. I’ll explain how it works in just a moment. But first, let’s back up just a bit.
You’ve heard of strength training before, of course. Maybe it’s something your doc brings up every year at your annual physical. Or perhaps it makes you think of red-faced weight lifters pumping iron.
But what about strength training for your LUNGS?
It’s really a thing. And in fact, if you’re a longtime Healthier Talk reader, it may even be starting to ring a bell.
Strength training for your lungs
A couple of years back, I shared some exciting research with my readers about a technique that was helping some folks ditch their CPAP machines. (If you missed that issue, catch up here.)
But, as I explained at the time, this breathing method doesn’t just have potential benefits for folks with sleep apnea. It was showing promise for improving blood pressure, brain function, and even overall fitness levels.
It’s called Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST). And it’s actually NOT some new-fangled invention.
In fact, IMST has been around since the 80s. Originally it was developed to increase strength in the diaphragm and breathing muscles in folks who had been on a ventilator.
But it wasn’t until recent years that scientists began to realize it could also have uses that went well beyond its original purpose. That’s when research on its potential for improving blood pressure began.
And now we have some of the strongest evidence yet to back up my recommendations from a few years ago. Researchers recently completed a clinical trial that shows consistent use of an IMST device could lower blood pressure and improve vascular health as much as (or even MORE than) aerobic exercise or medication.
In other words, this simple breathing technique could help fight off one of America’s leading killers, cardiovascular disease.
Blood pressure plunged without drugs
For the new study, researchers recruited 36 volunteers between the ages of 50 to 79. They all had had high blood pressure (a systolic of 120 or more) but were otherwise healthy.
Half of the participants did the Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training for six weeks. That consisted of taking 30 daily inhalations at high resistance for six days a week.
The placebo group also used an IMST device for six weeks. But it was set at a far lower resistance level.
At the end of the trial, the IMST group had a 9-point drop on their top (systolic) blood pressure number on average. Now that may seem modest at first glance, but it’s actually quite impressive.
You’d need to briskly walk around 30 minutes a day five days a week to get results like that from exercise. Plus, the reduction is similar to what you would see from certain hypertension medications.
And don’t forget this was the result of simply taking 30 breaths on a machine for six days a week.
But the benefits didn’t end there. The group that got the real deal IMST also had…
- measurably lower markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, important players in your risk for heart attack
- improvements in brain function and physical fitness
- lasting results for at least six weeks after stopping IMST
Researchers aren’t entirely sure why the breathing technique has such a strong effect on blood pressure, but they have a strong, educated hunch.
They believe the IMST triggers cells in the blood vessel walls to pump out more nitric oxide. And that, in turn, causes the vessels to relax. In fact, it’s the same reason THIS veggie drink can drop your BP by up to 10 points too.
The research group is working on a cell phone app that will help folks like you and me do the IMST protocol at home. And there are good IMST devices on the market already in a wide range of prices (I picked mine up on Amazon).
That makes this simple breathing protocol affordable and accessible for anyone who wants to keep their blood pressure in check without using drugs. And about that exercise? Well, I still recommend you keep it in the mix.
(Photo credit: Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)
Latest posts by Alice Jacob (see all)
- The DONUT SHOP secret to a STRONGER heart - July 29, 2021
- Cancer cells annihilated by THIS common nutrient - July 28, 2021
- New study reveals the truth about artificial meats - July 28, 2021