High blood pressure: a breathing exercise to lower blood pressure


  • Developed in the 1980s, this exercise can be practiced at home in front of the television in five minutes.
  • It is more effective than active walking and some aerobic exercise, and its results are similar to those of antihypertensive treatments.

According to Public Health France, hypertension (HTA) affects more than a third of French people, half of whom are unaware of their condition and therefore receive no treatment. However, high blood pressure can have serious consequences. High blood pressure on the walls of arteries can harden and age them prematurely, putting them at significant risk for cardiovascular accidents, particularly heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure.

To lower blood pressure, there are a number of treatments that work differently for high blood pressure. Watching your diet and engaging in physical activity are also recommended.

According to a study published in Journal of the American Heart Association, a breathing exercise called “inspiratory muscle strength training” can also lower blood pressure by doing it five minutes a day. According to the study authors, their results were just as convincing, if not more convincing, than aerobic exercise or medication.

“We know there are many lifestyle strategies that can help people maintain cardiovascular health as they age, but the reality is that they can take a lot of time and effort and can be expensive and difficult to implement. For certain people,” , says Daniel Craighead, author of the work. The advantage of this exercise, according to him, is “made in five minutes at home while watching tv“.

Significantly lower systolic blood pressure

This exercise was developed in the 1980s to help patients with severe respiratory conditions strengthen their diaphragm and other breathing muscles. It involves forceful inhalation through a handheld device that provides resistance.

When this technique was prescribed for respiratory conditions, doctors initially recommended a low-resistance treatment of 30 minutes per day. Professor Craighead and colleagues are now investigating whether a faster regimen (30 high-intensity inhalations per day, 6 days per week) could also improve cardiovascular, cognitive and physical performance.

To find out, they recruited 36 healthy adults between the ages of 50 and 79 with above-normal systolic blood pressure (120 mmHg or more). Half of them followed a six-week high-resistance exercise program, while the other half followed a much lower-resistance placebo diet.

Results showed that systolic blood pressure dropped by an average of 9 points in the first group, a greater decrease than walking 30 minutes a day five days a week. This decrease is also consistent with the effect of certain antihypertensive drug treatments. Furthermore, the group retained most of this improvement even after they stopped exercising.

Recommended exercise for postmenopausal women

Another benefit noted in this group: a 45% improvement in vascular endothelial function, the ability of arteries to dilate under stimulation, and a significant increase in nitric oxide levels, which is essential for arterial dilation and prevention of plaque build-up . Finally, markers of inflammation and oxidative stress decreased significantly after breathing exercises, which nearly 95% of subjects continued.

Respiratory muscle strength training can be particularly useful in postmenopausal women, since aerobic exercise programs are not always effective in lowering their blood pressure. “If aerobic exercise doesn’t improve this key indicator of cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women, they need another lifestyle intervention that does.” And this exercise “could be the case”concludes Professor Craighead.

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