Improve your blood pressure and brain function in just five minutes: the promise seems pretty unrealistic, but that’s the one which has made by a team of American scientists.
This technique is called IMST, for Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training - literally, a workout to strengthen the respiratory muscles. "It's an exercise that you can do quickly at home or in the office, without even having to change clothes," enthuses Dr. Daniel Craighead, lead author of the study. "We think it’s beneficial for lowering blood pressure and possibly improving cognitive and physical performance."
Although it promises to be quite revolutionary, this technique is nothing new. It was actually developed in the 1980s to help people with breathing problems to live without an artificial respirator. It’s a kind of small machine that fits in the palm of your hand. By inhaling and exhaling into it, the machine opposes breath resistance, which is a kind of physical training of the respiratory muscles.
More effective than an aerobics session
However, it was not until 2016 that researchers at the University of Arizona realized its incredible abilities. In a study on sleep apnoea, they asked participants to breathe for 5 minutes a day using this piece of equipment.
Their results were clear: in addition to sleeping soundly, participants experienced unexpected side effects after just six weeks of treatment. In particular, their systolic blood pressure fell back to 12 mm mercury; for comparison, this is twice the decline they would have seen for an aerobics session.
Better endurance and better memory
In a new study, the researchers saw success: half way through the trial, they noted a significant drop in participants' blood pressure, as well as an overall improvement in arterial function. They were more resilient during physical resistance exercises, lasting longer on the treadmill.
Moreover, people who have tried IMST have also had better results in cognitive and memory tests. According to the researchers, this is all due to better oxygen levels in the brain.
All these results have made the researchers quite optimistic. As the scientists have pointed out, half way through adult life, no less than 65% of people suffer from high blood pressure. With this technique, it would be possible to reduce this phenomenon. "High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death in America" says Dr. Craighead. "Having another option in the locker to help with prevention would be a real win," he concluded.