Adopting a specific breathing technique may have implications for reducing blood pressure and other indicators linked to the risk of heart disease, according to recent research published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative, and Comparative Physiology.
The study underscores the cardiovascular benefits of nasal breathing over mouth breathing, shedding light on the intricate interplay between respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
Blood pressure and heart rate are recognized as key predictors of heart disease, and this study explores how breathing patterns influence these vital functions.
Involving 20 young adult volunteers in a crossover study that included both rest and exercise conditions, the team observed the participants during various breathing activities.
During the rest condition, volunteers engaged in nasal-only and mouth-only breathing exercises in a randomized sequence.
Results revealed that nasal breathing, conducted with closed lips, led to lower diastolic blood pressure and a reduced perceived rate of exertion compared to mouth breathing, but notably, this effect was observed only during the rest condition, not during exercise.
The exercise condition aimed to replicate daily activities, with participants walking at a moderate pace on a slight incline using a recumbent stationary bike. Once again, in a randomized order, participants performed mouth-only and nasal-only breathing activities.
Measurements of blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate were taken during both conditions.
The findings indicated that nasal breathing, as opposed to oral breathing, shifted the nervous system into a more parasympathetic state during the rest condition.
The researchers interpret these collective observations to suggest that nasal breathing may offer modest but potentially clinically relevant improvements in prognostic cardiovascular variables at rest.
However, this effect was not observed during exercise.
In summarizing their work, the researchers highlighted the advancement in understanding how nasal breathing influences crucial cardiovascular variables, emphasizing the need for future, more extensive studies in different populations to further explore the potential long-term effects of this breathing technique.
“We interpret the collective data to suggest that nasal compared with oral breathing provides modest, but potentially clinically relevant, improvements in prognostic cardiovascular variables at rest, but not during exercise,” they concluded.
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