- New research presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting finds that the benefits of certain muscles that control our breathing can extend to our fitness levels.
- High Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) is resistance training used to strengthen the respiratory muscles.
- Originally conceived in the 1980s, it is a way to strengthen the respiratory muscles by inhaling through a portable, resistance-creating device, like inhaling through a straw.
When exercising, you may be neglecting a group of muscles that can be critical to your performance: those that help you breathe.
New research presented at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2022 finds that the benefits of certain muscles that control our breathing can extend to our fitness levels.
High Resistance Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST) is resistance training used to strengthen the respiratory muscles.
Originally conceived in the 1980s, it is a way to strengthen the respiratory muscles of people with respiratory diseases by inhaling through a portable, resistance-creating device, like inhaling through a straw.
“Conventional aerobic exercise can improve cardiorespiratory fitness and exercise tolerance, both of which are independent risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” Kaitlin Freeberg, a PhD student in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, told Healthline. (UC) Boulder.
“However, adherence to physical activity guidelines is poor in adults due to lack of time, suggesting that new, healthy and time-efficient lifestyle interventions are needed that can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. as we age, “Freeberg said.
For this study, Freeberg and their team divided 35 people aged 50 and over into two groups; one used the high-resistance IMST and the other was a “control” group that used the low-resistance device.
Both groups performed the IMST workout for 30 breaths (approximately five minutes) every day for six weeks.
The goal was to investigate whether six weeks of high-resistance IMST could improve cardiorespiratory fitness and / or exercise tolerance.
The results after six weeks showed that the high resistance group experienced a 12% improvement in a treadmill exhaustion test, while the low resistance control group showed none.
“The 12% improvement in exercise tolerance with high-resistance IMST is promising as it evoked about three-quarters of the increase in exercise tolerance that was seen with traditional aerobic exercise interventions, requiring much less time to completion, “Freeberg said.
“High-strength IMST is a promising, time-efficient, low-barrier strategy for improving exercise tolerance and cardiovascular health in middle-aged and older adults,” he said.
Last June, UC Boulder researchers looked at how IMST might affect blood pressure.
Lead author Daniel Craighead, assistant research professor in UC Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology, found that the same 30 inhalations per day with a high-strength protocol offered important benefits.
Evaluated after six weeks, the IMST group experienced a nine-point mean reduction in systolic blood pressure (the highest number).
They also saw significant improvement in artery health and increased levels of nitric oxide, a molecule needed to prevent plaque buildup.
“We found that not only is it more time-efficient than traditional exercise programs, but the benefits may be more lasting,” Craighead said in a statement.
“IMST has been around for several decades and is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use device that can help train and improve the strength of the muscles that aid inspiratory breathing,” said Jamie Wood., PT, PhD, respiratory physiotherapist in the Department of Rehabilitation and Human Performance of the Mount Sinai Health System.
Wood explained that the muscles used during inhalation include the diaphragm and the external intercostals (small muscles found between the ribs).
“IMST is safe to use,” he said. “However, it should be implemented under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Wood warned that this was a small study with only 35 participants, so the results may not apply to everyone. But he said the study showed benefits for the people tested using a treadmill.
Wood added that it’s important to find out what the performance improvements mean.
“It is important to understand what the 12% improvement in real units means,” he said. “And how this finding will translate into other measures of physical function and long-term quality of life.”
New research finds that a type of exercise that focuses on the muscles used for breathing can improve the endurance of older people during a treadmill test.
Experts say IMST can increase strength in the muscles we use to breathe.
They also say that, while safe, this protocol should be used under medical guidance.