Researchers say simple 5-minute IMST workout has major health benefits

High blood pressure is a common, insidious health issue that impacts a huge number of people and, when left untreated, can lead to serious illnesses as one ages. Blood pressure medication is available to treat hypertension, but many people can naturally reduce their blood pressure by making certain lifestyle changes, including increasing the amount of exercise they get every week.

Getting enough time to adequately workout is difficult for some people, which is where this new study comes in. Researchers with the University of Colorado at Boulder found that participating in a specific type of workout called High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) for five minutes a day can have a notable impact on high blood pressure.

This type of exercise is described as strength training specifically for the muscles that control breathing, and it may be more effective at lowering blood pressure than medication or aerobic exercise, at least in some people. IMST was likewise found to improve some aspects of one's vascular health.

This unique type of breathing muscle training was developed back in the 1980s to help people suffering from severe respiratory diseases; the goal was to help them strengthen their breathing muscles, including the diaphragm, by "vigorously" inhaling through a resistance device.

This new study involved 36 older adults who had high blood pressure. These participants were split into two groups, one a placebo group and the other tasked with performing 30 resistance inhalations every day. After the six weeks, the group tasked with using the device experienced an average systolic blood pressure decrease of nine points, which is more than what many people see when they spend 30 minutes conducting aerobic exercises five days a week.

This improvement was largely maintained six weeks after the participants stopped using the device, which was also linked to a 45-percent increase in vascular endothelial function and a major boost in nitric oxide, which causes arteries to dilate. Beyond that, these participants also experienced benefits when it came to oxidative stress and inflammation.