The respiratory and circulatory systems are intimately linked, so it is not surprising that the processes of each of them have repercussions on the other. Based on this idea, a group of scientists has found that certain breathing exercises such as those practiced regularly in yoga could have a protective effect in the heart and against hypertension.
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A daily exercise regimen
This is the conclusion of an article published in the scientific journal Journal of Applied Physiology, which accounts for research by teams from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Arizona. Specifically, they show that a daily regimen of diaphragmatic breathing training helps improve heart health and lower blood pressure.
To do this, they used a hand-held device called PoweBreathe, which forces the respiratory muscles and lungs to work harder to collect the same amount of airin a process that in principle should serve to strengthen them.
The study was carried out on a group of volunteers between 18 and 82 years old, who had to try a training technique consisting of take 30 breaths daily with the machine for six weeks.
Improvements in a month and a half
Within two weeks, the participants had already experienced improvements. By the end of the period, these were even more significant: specifically, systolic pressure dropped by an average of 9 millimeters of mercury (mmHG) and diastolic by 4 mmHG. A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mmHG.
These figures are important because lowering the systolic pressure by 10 mmHG or the diastolic pressure by 5 mmHG reduces the risk of suffering a stroke by 35%and the risk of ischemic heart disease by about 25% at the age of 65 years.
In fact, the kind of reduction in blood pressure seen in the study is similar to what can be achieved with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. The proposed exercise, on the other hand, takes between 5 and 10 minutes a day, which accounts for its efficiency. The figure is also similar to that achieved by many drugs for hypertension.
should not replace sport
Despite this, the authors point out that respiratory training does not should replace physical exercisenor is it something that people should start doing without first consulting their doctor.
This is not to say that it is not suitable in most cases. The sample studied included people with normal blood pressure, people with some hypertension, people with obstructive sleep apnea, and people using blood pressure medications, and the benefits were observable in all of them.
Daniel H. Craighead, Dallin Tavoian, Kaitlin A. Freeberg, Josie L. Mazzone, Jennifer R. Vranish, Claire M. DeLucia, Douglas R. Seals, and E. Fiona Bailey. A multi-trial, retrospective analysis of the antihypertensive effects of high-resistance, low-volume inspiratory muscle strength training. Journal of Applied Physiology, 2022.