A Simple Breathing Exercise May Improve Your Endurance

A Simple Breathing Exercise May Improve Your Endurance

When you work out, it’s very common to focus on chest, legs, shoulders, back, arms, and core muscle groups. An area that you probably don’t target is the muscles that help you breathe. According to new research from the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2022, it’s possible for muscles that control breath to enhance fitness levels.

What Is Endurance?

Endurance isn’t just something that athletes have to maintain. You need endurance to properly execute repetitive activities in your daily life. These activities range from low-intensity cooking or blow-drying hair to high-intensity hiking and stair-climbing. Your endurance is related to your ability to perform work over and extended period of time. Children seem to play for hours without ever getting tired, but this isn’t necessarily the case for older adults. Improving endurance can help your ability to perform aerobic activity and help you avoid muscular fatigue.

Conventional cardiovascular exercise can help improve cardiorespiratory fitness and exercise tolerance. The reality is that many people don’t engage in regularly aerobic activity, and their cardiovascular health suffers as a result. It’s a proven fact that improving endurance by way of regular cardiovascular activity can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases as you age. The new study, however, said that high-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) was an excellent way to strengthen breathing muscles. 

What Is IMST?

High-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) is typically recommended for people with bronchitis, COPD, asthma, and emphysema. IMST originated in the 1980s as a method of breathing to open the narrow airways in people with the aforementioned conditions. New research states that it may also improve endurance and overall performance. By strengthening the respiratory muscles used for breathing, you can perform better. This happens because breathing volume increases as a result of practicing IMST. Continue reading to see what the study reported. 

12% Increase In Fitness In Just 6 Weeks

The study divided 35 people age 50 and older into two groups. One group used IMST at high resistance, while the other group was controlled and used the device at low resistance. Both groups performed IMST training for 30 breaths, which took about five minutes, every day for six consecutive weeks. The aim of the study was to see if the high resistance IMST group could improve endurance. 

After the six-week period, the high-resistance group experienced a 12% improvement in a treadmill time to exhaustion test. The low-resistance controlled group didn’t experience any improvement. The researchers conducting the study claim that the 12% increase in exercise tolerance is very promising. Tests revealed that high-resistance IMST evoked three-quarters of the increase in exercise tolerance that is consistent with aerobic exercise intervention. The only difference is that high resistance IMST requires very little time to complete. It’s a low-barrier strategy for improving exercise tolerance and cardiovascular health in middle-aged and older adults. 

Relationship Between Physical Activity And Respiratory Muscles

As we’ve discussed, strengthening the respiratory muscles is necessary for improved endurance and performance level. When you exercise, the body requires more oxygen and breathing volume must increase to accommodate the higher demand for oxygen. The muscles surrounding the lungs come into play in this situation, contracting to keep up with the need for oxygen. The more intense the workout, the harder these muscles must work. You need a lot of energy, then, in order to perform physically. When you improve respiratory strength, you increase the amount of oxygen that you can inhale in a given period. That ultimately decreases your energy consumption and enhances your endurance. Now, you know why IMST breathing can help you cardiovascular strength!

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