• Dmitri Konash

Best IMST Breathing Apps to Lower Blood Pressure

Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training, or IMST breathing exercise is taking the world by storm. How do you get IMST benefits to lower blood pressure without IMST device?


IMST breathing exercise without a device
IMST brings new twist to slow breathing. Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Challenges of managing high blood pressure

According to the World Health Organization over 1.1 billion people across the world suffer from high blood pressure, or hypertension [1]. Most people who suffer from high blood pressure believe that a hypertension medicine is the only way to fix this chronic condition. However hypertension medicines have different side effects which have negative health impacts.

What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is a higher-than-normal force of blood against walls of blood vessel walls. It forces the heart to work harder and hence creates a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, i.e. stroke. According to the guidelines of the American College of Cardiology [2], the normal blood pressure is under 120/80 mm HG. People are more likely to develop hypertension if they have a family history of this condition, as they age or become overweight.

How to lower blood pressure immediately

You have likely seen this before. Here are the natural ways to address high blood pressure long term: manage weight, become physically active, eat healthy food, enjoy adequate sleep and manage stress. If you want to lower blood pressure quickly at home there are scientifically proven natural ways of doing this: slow breathing exercises, meditation to lower blood pressure, acupressure for high blood pressure. Always talk to your doctor about integrating these exercises in your overall hypertension treatment plan.
Why breathing exercises to lower blood pressure?

Slow breathing exercises have been known for years to help lower high blood pressure [3,4]. You can try a 4-7-8 breathing or box breathing exercises to lower blood pressure yourself and observe their positive impact. Take your blood pressure reading with a blood pressure monitor before and 10 minutes after the exercise and see the results for yourself.

IMST breathing: new spin on an old approach to lowering blood pressure

A new study from researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which was published in the Journal of American Heart Association [5], demonstrates ​​high-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training exercise to lower blood pressure. All it takes is just 30 deep breaths to lower blood pressure, boost vascular health, and potentially reduce your chances of developing serious cardiovascular disease. It is a highly convenient and easy-to-perform method that could improve the health of millions of people with high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems.

The method is called Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training (IMST), a form of training specifically created to exercise the diaphragm and other breathing muscles. Researchers used an IMST device that provides resistance when someone inhales through it. You can see it in the photo below.

IMST breathing device
IMST breathing device

Breathing exercise made easy

Originally developed in the 1980s for those who suffer from respiratory issues, IMST breathing exercise requires you to inhale really hard. This is why researchers used a special device that provides resistance.

According to the researchers, IMST was usually prescribed to people to do for a half-hour a day "at low resistance." In the current research, conducted in the University of Colorado, it has been used like a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) — quicker, higher resistance repetitions. Researchers mentioned in the article [5], that they are also working on a breathing app for high blood pressure.

How they tested IMST to make sure that it works

The researchers assembled 36 healthy volunteers between the ages of 50 and 79 with healthy blood pressure numbers. Half the group were randomly assigned to do high-resistance IMST, using devices that make it significantly harder to inhale through, giving the breathing muscles a higher-intensity workout.

The other half of the group also did IMST for 1.5 months, but were effectively given a placebo: a sham treatment that used low-resistance versions of the device.
It is just as good for you as moderate aerobic exercise

At the end of the study, those who did the more intense form of breathing exercise had a 9-point drop in their systolic blood pressure—"a reduction which generally exceeds that achieved by walking 30 minutes a day five days a week," say the study authors.

"That decline is also equal to the effects of some blood pressure-lowering drug regimens." "This improvement in Systolic Blood Pressure is clinically meaningful because it is associated with a 30 percent to 40 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease," the researchers explain.

Enjoyable treatment

Researchers found that the technique seems easy to actually commit to: 95% of participants in the study completed everything that was required from their 5-minute exercise sessions. This is an important finding, given an adult's level of adherence to doing the generally recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day is estimated to be under 5%. It may be as effective as breathing apps to lower blood pressure. More on the below.

Does IMST breathing exercise to lower blood pressure without a device really work?

How do you do IMST breathing exercise to lower blood pressure? Researchers used a device called an inspiratory muscle trainer that you put to your mouth, while plugging your nose, that will provide resistance.

Our tests show that IMST breathing exercise could be performed without a device. How does it work? Just restrict airflow through your nostrils with your thumbs while inhaling. Keep your mouth closed while breathing in. Exhale freely. It should be very difficult to inhale. You should be able to take just about ¼ of the air as compared to your regular deep inhale and you should feel your diaphragm rising. I have not conducted a formal research on this but every time I was doing this exercise over two weeks it DID result in reducing my Systolic blood pressure by 5-9 points.

Check out the video below which explains the technique in detail and includes a 3 Min follow along exercise.


Please let me know in the comments how this exercise worked for you. Or ask a question on the main page if you would like more detailed instructions.

How apps can help with IMST breathing exercise?

Once you tried IMST breathing without device by following our YouTube video, you may consider exploring mobile apps which could deliver a similar experience off-line. Here are the main reasons why breathing apps are becoming very popular these days for users looking for a convenient way to use breathing exercises to lower blood pressure:
- Breathing apps allow to enjoy breathing exercises with connecting to internet
- They have a selection of breathing exercises to choose from in one place
- Best apps offer opportunity to customize breathing patterns to suit individual needs

Best IMST Breathing Apps To Lower Blood Pressure

As of April 2022 I found only two apps on the market which include IMST breathing exercise.

Aerofit Pro (™) is one of them. It is actually a combination of a device and virtual coach app. It is positioned as a lung exercise device. It comes with many bells and whistles and as expected for this kind of complex device it comes with a steep price tag.

Aerofit Pro (TM) virtual breathing coach
Aerofit Pro (TM) virtual breathing coach
The breathing exercise offering comes with different levels of resistance that can be easily calibrated.

If you tried IMST breathing exercise without a device and are quite happy with the results but want to have a better user experience while doing this exercise you may explore our BreathNow app.

BreathNow is a blood pressure app and heart rate monitor in one. It offers users not only a convenient way to log and track their blood pressure and pulse, but also a set of calming activities which help to lower anxiety and high blood pressure without medications. It includes the most popular breathing exercises like 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing and of course IMST breathing without device to lower blood pressure. Please try this app for free on the Apple Appstore and let me know in the comments how it worked for you.


We are also considering bringing IMST breathing exercise right to your Apple Watch. Please let us know in the comments if you think that IMST breathing exercise on Apple Watch will make your breathing to lower blood pressure experience more enjoyable and we will prioritize this project.

REFERENCES

1. World Health Organization on Hypertension.
2. New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension.
3. Slow Deep Breathing Reduces High Blood Pressure In Hypertensive Patients
4. Effect of alternate nostril breathing exercise on blood pressure, heart rate, and rate pressure product among patients with hypertension.
5. Time Efficient Inspiratory Muscle Strength Training Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Endothelial Function, NO Bioavailability, and Oxidative Stress in Midlife/Older Adults With Above, Normal Blood Pressure, Journal of American Heart Association,

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