The research was carried out at the University of Colorado (UC) Boulder and centers on a type of breathing exercise known as High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST).
Traditionally therapies strengthen the diaphragm and other breathing muscles through daily, low-resistance sessions lasting 30 minutes apiece.
But the UC Boulder scientists have been investigating how high-resistance sessions of much shorter duration ( about just 5 Minutes) could also prove beneficial.
To explore the possibilities to help people to maintain cardiovascular health as they age, the scientists conducted a study involving 35 adults between 50 to 79 who had above normal systolic blood pressure but were otherwise healthy.
The participants were made to perform 30 inhalations per day ( for about 5mins) with an IMST device six days a week over six weeks.
Half of the participants were put on a high resistance regime, and the other half on a lower resistance. None of the participants knew which group they were placed in.
Assessing the participants after six weeks showed a sharp decline in systolic blood pressure among the high-resistance group, amounting to a nine-point decline on average.
The Researchers said the improvement in the high-resistance group also showed a relationship with changes in 18 metabolites tested in the study, predominantly ones that “play critical roles in energy production and fatty acid metabolism”.
Notably, these benefits persisted well after the conclusion of the regime, with assessments six weeks afterward showing that most of the improvements in blood pressure levels had been maintained.
Other beneficial results from the Studies are:
- It led to a 45-percent improvement in vascular endothelial function, which is the arteries’ ability to expand when stimulated.
- It also drove up nitric oxide levels, a key molecule in preventing plaque buildup.
- Potentially helpful one for postmenopausal women.
The preliminary findings suggested that 5 min/day of high-resistance IMST is a promising, highly adherable mode of physical training that increases exercise tolerance and modulates metabolic pathways in [middle-aged and older] adults.
The researchers are drawing up a follow-up study involving around 100 people, which will pit a 12-week IMST regime head-to-head with an aerobic exercise program to tease out the effects even further