News Release

Five minutes of daily breath training improves exercise tolerance in middle-aged and older adults

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Experimental Biology

Kaitlin A. Freeberg, MS

image: Kaitlin A. Freeberg, MS view more 

Credit: Kaitlin A. Freeberg, MS

Philadelphia (April 2, 2022)—Despite the myriad known benefits of exercise, many middle-aged and older adults struggle to meet physical activity recommendations. New research finds potential for high-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training (IMST) to help this population transition to a healthier lifestyle. The study will be presented this week at the American Physiological Society annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2022.

Although exercise reduces the risk of developing chronic illness with aging, a 2016 study found 28% of U.S. adults age 50 and older were physically inactive. “Developing novel forms of physical training that increase adherence and improve physical function are key to reducing the risk of chronic diseases with aging. High-resistance IMST may be one such strategy to promote adherence and improve multiple components of health in midlife and older adults,” lead researcher Kaitlin Freeberg, MS, explains.

IMST involves inhaling through a handheld device called a manual breathing trainer that adds resistance to the breath. The research team split 35 adults age 50 and older into a high-resistance group or a low-resistance control group. Both groups used a manual breathing trainer for 30 breaths a day (about five minutes) for six weeks; both groups were able to adhere to the program.

After six weeks, the high-resistance group showed a 12% improvement in a treadmill time to exhaustion test, while the low-resistance control group showed no change. The improvement in the high-resistance group also showed a relationship with changes in 18 metabolites tested in the study, predominantly ones that “play key roles in energy production and fatty acid metabolism.”

“These preliminary findings suggest 5 min/day of high-resistance IMST is a promising, highly adherable mode of physical training that increases exercise tolerance and modulates metabolic pathways in [middle-aged and older] adults,” Freeberg wrote.


NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact APS Media Relations or call 301.634.7314. Find more research highlights in our Newsroom.

About Experimental Biology 2022

Experimental Biology is the annual meeting of five societies that explores the latest research in physiology, anatomy, biochemistry and molecular biology, investigative pathology and pharmacology. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping clinical advances, the meeting offers an unparalleled opportunity for global exchange among scientists who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.


About the American Physiological Society

Physiology is a broad area of scientific inquiry that focuses on how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. The American Physiological Society connects a global, multidisciplinary community of more than 10,000 biomedical scientists and educators as part of its mission to advance scientific discovery, understand life and improve health. The Society drives collaboration and spotlights scientific discoveries through its 16 scholarly journals and programming that support researchers and educators in their work.


Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.