This research, ‘Novel 5-minute workout improves blood pressure, may boost your brain’ investigates the effects of just 30 breaths of POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST). The University of Colorado, Boulder, investigates whether the POWERbreathe K3 could lower blood pressure and reduce heart attack risk.

The latest research from the pilot study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, finds POWERbreathe K-Series IMT to be a promising home remedy to lower blood pressure. The research also investigates its potential for helping you to think more clearly and for boosting sports performance. Along with the latest findings, is a thoroughly absorbing associated editorial discussing how,

Taking a deep, resisted, breath offers a new and unconventional way to generate the benefits of exercise and physical activity.

How to lower blood pressure naturally

One of the key findings of the research is that 30 breaths of IMST (about five minutes) will lower blood pressure. Crucially, researchers report significant drops in blood pressure and improvements in large-artery function. In fact, their findings show that about 5-minutes of IMST lowers blood pressure as much as aerobic exercise and more than some medications.

Other findings

The research findings also suggest that just 5-minutes of POWERbreathe IMST may also boost cognitive function. Furthermore, their findings show that it may also improve fitness and increase sports performance. In fact, these improvements are already proven in previous research studies. However, this study reiterates such findings.

The research

Research subjects are either part of the sham group (using low/no IMST) or the IMST group. The IMST group performs 30 breaths of inspiratory muscle strength training (taking approximately 5-minutes). IMST is strength training for the muscles you use to inhale. Both groups perform their version of IMST over a period of 6 weeks. Researchers feel that by doing this for 5 minutes a day in the comfort of their own home, people will get health benefits they otherwise might not get.

The tests

Researchers perform tests to evaluate:

  • Vascular function – how healthy the blood vessels are
  • Cerebral vascular function – how healthy the blood vessels in the brain are
  • Cognitive function
  • Physical performance – VO2 max testing assesses this
  • Motor function

Results show that the IMST group, compared to sham subjects, are lowering their blood pressure and improving blood vessel health. Also, the IMST group is performing better on certain cognitive and memory tests. In addition, the IMST group are able to keep their heart rate and oxygen consumption lower during exercise. Consequently, subjects are also showing an increase in exercise tolerance time too.

POWERbreathe IMST lowers casual systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure

Findings from the pilot study show that in both midlife/older men and postmenopausal women with above‐normal systolic blood pressure (SBD), high‐resistance IMST lowers casual SBD and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). Furthermore, reductions in casual SBD are largely maintained at least 6 weeks after training is concluded.

In addition to the above findings, IMST also lowers 24‐hour SBP. This is when compared to sham training. It also improves vascular endothelial function. Vascular endothelium makes up the inner cellular lining of arteries, veins and capillaries.

POWERbreathe IMST is a promising lifestyle intervention

Finally… results provide support for high‐resistance IMST as a promising lifestyle intervention for improving cardiovascular function and possibly decreasing the risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease] and other clinical disorders, such as cognitive dysfunction and chronic kidney disease.

Findings also show POWERbreathe IMST to be safe, tolerable, with excellent adherence to the training programme.

Positive outcomes

With all this evidence, researchers hope that by using POWERbreathe IMST, people may be able to get their blood pressure under control, decrease their risk of chronic conditions and live healthier lives.

Is there an alternative to the POWERbreathe K3 for lowering blood pressure? 

Lead author of the University of Colorado Boulder study, Daniel Craighead, does suggest a more affordable alternative to the electronic POWERbreathe K-Series IMST. However, in order to achieve such results, you’ll still need to train your inhalation to become much greater than you’ll ever experience during normal daily life or exercise.

A good alternative would be the POWERbreathe Plus MR as it provides a high resistance to your inspiration. In fact, Craighead advises that a minimum resistance of 100 cmH2O is needed to breathe in against if you are to experience the same benefits seen from the K3. Our POWERbreathe Plus MR has an adjustable load, ranging from 23cmH2O to 186cmH2O.

The POWERbreathe Plus IMT device creates a resistance to your in-breath using a precisely calibrated, spring loaded ‘pressure threshold’ valve. This type of training is similar to weightlifting, and you can be sure to challenge your in-breath. And, because the load is adjustable, you are able to start with a ‘lighter’ level of training, and work your way up, increasing the load, as your inspiratory muscles become stronger.