Ultra-Time-Efficient Breath Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure, Boosts Brain Function

New research shows that a five-minute breathing workout lowers blood pressure and heart attack risk, enhances sports performance and boosts brain power- all while barely having to move.

I love things that offer a high use to investment ratio. Like my robot vacuum. My phone. For the amount I paid for these things, I get an insane amount of use out of them. For a similar ratio to spend less time and energy to get more results, I'm a huge fan of this breathing trainer which gives a powerful internal workout just through breathing. To buy the needed device will only set you back around $20, you can do it at home or in the office, and it takes only about five minutes to do.

This handheld device is a breath trainer, a simple device with a controllable valve at one end which restricts airflow. When you inhale through it, it acts as strength-training for your inspiratory muscles, particularly the diaphragm.

It is called 'Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training' (IMST) and it was originally developed in the 1980s as a way to help wean critically ill people off ventilators and boost their lung capacity. The protocol took 30 minutes to perform.

But in 2016, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona wanted to see if it could be done faster, to make it easier to maintain as a long term habit. They conducted a 6-week trial to see if just 30 inhalations per day with greater resistance would do the trick. The original goal was to help sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea, who tend to have weak breathing muscles.

They discovered that the addition of greater resistance in a shorter duration delivered even greater benefits than they expected. After six weeks of daily practice, systolic blood pressure decreased twice as much as what you could get if doing vigorous aerobic exercise, or taking blood pressure medication. The patients also slept more deeply and performed better on certain cognitive and memory tests. They were also able to exercise more intensely, for a longer period of time and keep their heart rate and oxygen consumption lower during exercise.

Because high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, one of the highest causes of death around the world, having a simple tool and effective tool like this which takes little time to use could be a major victory for health.

I use this breath trainer daily in the morning following the same protocol of 30 vigorous inhalations in 5 minutes. It feels amazing. You can pick up a breathing trainer on the net- a simple one will do fine. Set the resistance level to the right amount of challenge for you. At first, I suggest that you set a timer for five minutes (it takes me around 4 minutes) to keep you focused. Take vigorous, powerful inhalations and exhale freely out of the trainer. Keep going, one after another until you get to 30. That's it!

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BreathYoga is Yoga + Breathwork. Yoga is sequenced using four physical principles which directly support the breathing system so you can breathe easier, lighter and with more freedom.

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About the author Adrian Cox, Founder & CEO of BreathYoga & Yoga Elements


Adrian Cox has been teaching yoga and breathwork globally since 1999. He is the founder of Yoga Elements, one of the first yoga centers in Thailand and during it’s 18 years of operation, it garnered a highly esteemed reputation for quality. It was described as “Easily Bangkok’s best studio” by Travel and Leisure (25 Top Yoga Studios Around the World) and as “Bangkok’s most inspiring place to study yoga” by Bangkok Post (reader choice awards).

Adrian teaches workshops, and trainings worldwide, and was featured at the Yoga Journal conferences in Moscow and Bangkok in 2008, 2009, and 2010. He is a certified Rebirthing Breathwork teacher, an E-RYT certified yoga teacher trainer as well a multi-certified certified NLP trainer and hypnotherapist.