By Matt Evans
High blood pressure is a worrying thing. Known as hypertension, it is a clear indicator of prediabetes and metabolic syndrome, and can potentially signal the onset of dangerous heart disease and other related illnesses.
It's something that can be rectified with diet and exercise: one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Diagnostic Research, found regular aerobic exercise by cycling significantly reduced blood pressure and weight. That's certainly one of the best reasons to buy one of the best exercise bikes for home use.
However, in addition to exercise and learning how to eat healthily, you can actually further reduce blood pressure in just five minutes a day, according to science. The new study, published by researchers from the University of Colorado, found five minutes of High-Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training – a method used to train your lungs and breathing muscles – could reduce blood pressure just as well, or even better, than diet and exercise.
Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training, or IMST, involves using a handheld device shaped a bit like an asthma inhaler, available over the counter: you pop it into your mouth, try and suck in as much air as possible, and the device applies resistance. It's a bit like weight training for your lungs and breathing muscles.
Over time, doing just 30 high-resistance inhalations a day, the researchers found IMST training achieved an average of nine point drop in the blood pressure of its participants. This is roughly equivalent, say the researchers, to walking for an additional 30 minutes each day.
Lead author Daniel Craighead said: "There are a lot of lifestyle strategies that we know can help people maintain cardiovascular health as they age. But the reality is, they take a lot of time and effort and can be expensive and hard for some people to access."
"IMST can be done in five minutes in your own home while you watch TV."
We're not saying this is a replacement for eating healthy and exercising regularly – far from it. However, if you're finding your blood pressure is very high, these breath trainers cost around $30 on Amazon in the US and £30 at Lloyds in the UK, and can help address vascular health, blood pressure and even ease of breath during other intense exercise. Stretching exercises have also been found to reduce arterial stiffness, helping with blood pressure.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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