Working out your breathing muscles for five minutes a day can lower your blood pressure more than exercise, a new study suggests.
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Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Arizona assessed if High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST), which is a device that requires you to inhale against resistance, improved cardiovascular health.
In the small study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, 18 participants used the IMST device with resistance, and the other half used the device with no resistance.
After inhaling 30 times using the device six days a week over the course of six weeks, the participants who use IMST with resistance had dropped, on average, nine millimeters of mercury in systolic blood pressure, which measures the pressure on your arteries when your heart beats.
The drop in blood pressure from IMST is as effective as some pressure-lowering drugs. What’s more, the nine-point drop from IMST reduces blood pressure more than walking 30 minutes a day five days a week.
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The researchers also found that the treatment group had higher levels of nitric oxide, which widens the blood vessels.
“It seemed to change, for all parameters that were tested, in a good direction,” Dr. John Elefteriades, a professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Yale School of Medicine who was not involved in the study, told Insider.
Over a hundred million Americans have high blood pressure
Around 103 million people in the US have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Daniel Craighead, study author and an assistant research professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology University of Colorado Boulder, told Insider that the device can help millions of Americans with high blood pressure, especially for those that don’t have time to exercise.
“There’s a good chance people who don’t have time to do longer exercise, 30 minutes or more a day, might be able to do this and see some benefit on blood pressure,” Craighead said.
Although Elefteriades cautioned that the study was small, he said he believes the device could help people reduce their blood pressure.
This content was originally published here.