Resonant Breathing Assessment & Training Study

This page is for the Resonant Breathing Assessment & Training Study running in south east England and remotely in 2021 and 2022.

If you wish to volunteer for this study, please contact Dr Tony Steffert at tony@qeeg.co.uk.

Volunteers needed

Resonance Breathing Assessment Study (Part 1)

Are you interested to know which slow breathing rate gives you your highest heart rate variability?

We are running a research study to investigate how slow breathing affects peoples heart rate variability and physiology and to see if people can then train their breathing to increase their heart rate variability.

In the first part of the study, we are interested to find out, which breathing rate gives the highest Heart rate variability, which is a measure of how much variability in time’, there is between successive heartbeats and generally the larger the variability the better. The heart does not beat like a metronome and should speed up when you are active or stressed and slowdown at rest and in recovery mode. In fact, if your heart behaved like a metronome with very low variability this would be a bad sign and HRV tends to decrease with age or stress and increase with happiness.

With this data we will compute your ‘resonant breathing rate’, which is believed to be the optimal healthy breathing rate that would be beneficial to practise several times a week. If you are interested, we can email you the results of your assessment.

The study will take around one hour in person, where we will record your heart rate by sticking sensors to your wrists and measure your respiration rate with a belt around your waist over your clothes and capture your pulse and skin conductance activity with sensors on your fingers, while you breathe at 7 different slow rates of 5:15 minutes each. There is also an on-line questionnaire that will take around 20 minutes.

We will recruit around 50 fit and healthy people over the age of 18. Please do not volunteer if you have a pacemaker or other cardiac issues, breathing related difficulties, COPD, Emphysema, asthma, Raynaud’s disease, PTSD, or are on Beta blockers, as these can affect the heart rate variability.

The only personal data recorded, will be your name and contact details and only used for booking the session, and it will not be shared and will be kept in a password-protected document. Your physiological and questionnaire data will be anonymised and used for dissemination activities (e.g., academic articles, research talks, media presentations), and deposited in a specialist “Open Science” data centre for future research and learning, and we can send you copies of your data if you want to review and use for ongoing training.

Remote Resonant Breathing Training Study (Part 2)

Are you interested in training your slow breathing to increase your heart rate variability?

Most of us have learnt bad breathing habits during our lives, with shallow breathing from our chest and we have lost the art of deep breathing using our diaphragm, the muscle that separates the lungs from the abdomen. Given we breathe in and out on average around 25,000 times a day, it would make sense to get it right and stay healthy.

The second part to the study, is a 6-week home based daily training program (5 or more sessions a week), of 10 minutes breathing training. You will be asked to breathe at the rate found to give your highest HRV in the first part of the study.

The resonant breathing training is intended to help establish a new habit that has been shown to release stress and improve mood, focus, energy and performance.

You do not have to do this second part of the study, to take part in the first phase, but if you want to do this second training phase, you will need to do the first assessment part to find your ‘Resonant Breathing Rate’.

Resonant breathing training and heart rate variability training have been around for decades and there are many claims of a range of beneficial effects, but this is usually done in a clinic with a clinician, so we are interested to see how well this can work at home and how often people will do the training.

You will need an iPhone 7 or newer or iPad to run the App. and will be given an ear clip sensor to measure your HRV and a smart Phone app.

We will email you, an anonymous ID, email and password to use in the App. and all your data will be anonymous.

The only personal data recorded will be your name and contact details, which will only be used for booking your session and contact to your on-line data. This data will not be shared by the researchers and will be kept in a password-protected document. Your physiological and questionnaire data will be anonymised and used for academic articles, research talks or media presentations etc., and with your consent, deposited in a specialist “Open Science” data centre for future research and learning. We can send you copies of your data if you want to review and use it for your  own ongoing training.

Please do not volunteer if you have a pacemaker or other cardiac issues, breathing- related difficulties (e.g., COPD, Emphysema or asthma), Raynaud’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or are on Beta blockers, as these can all affect the heart rate variability. 

Part One: In-Person Resonant Breathing Assessment Study

The first part of this study will take around 1 hour, and you will be asked to breathe normally at seven different rates for 5:15 minutes each, whilst we measure your heart and respiration rate, and skin conductance activity. We will need to put a respiration sensor belt around your waste, over your clothing and connect some stick-on sensors to your wrists to measure your electrocardiogram and some sensors on your fingers to measure your pulse wave and skin conductance.

What we are interested to find out, is which rate gives the highest Heart rate variability, which is a measure of how much variability ‘in time’, there is between successive heartbeats and generally the larger the variability the better. The heart does not beat like a metronome and should speed up when you are active or stressed and slowdown at rest and in recovery mode. In fact, if your heart behaved like a metronome with very low variability this would be a bad sign and HRV tends to decrease with age or stress and increase with happiness.

With this data we will compute your ‘resident breathing rate’, which is believed to be the optimal healthy breathing rate that would be beneficial to practise several times a week. If you are interested, we can email you the results of your assessment.

Your physiological and questionnaire data will be stored with an anonymous participant ID number and all personal identifiable information like emails and names etc. will be kept in a password protected spreadsheet on a password protected computer in a lock room and not shared.

We plan to publish a scientific paper on this data and in accordance with open science guidelines, and with your consent, we would like to share the anonymised physiological and questionnaire data on a public repository, indefinitely for other researchers and the general public to access.

Both researchers conducting the in person data collection have been double vaccinated for COVID and will have to have a negative antigen test within the last three days of the session, and we will wear masks in the session.

Also please do not volunteer if you or a member of your households are considered clinically extremely vulnerable for coronavirus. See NHS clinically extremely vulnerable for coronavirus website.

Please contact us to reschedule, before coming to the in-person session, if you have recently acquired any new covid symptoms such as; respiratory symptoms and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Check the NHS website for COVID Symptoms.

In accordance with the ethical guidelines set out by the Treaty of Helsinki, you will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without giving a reason or suffering any consequences and you can withdraw your data up until 01/11/2021, when the data will be fully anonymised and aggregated for group analysis.

I would be very happy to chat with you about the study or HRV in general, and if you have any question just email or call.

Dr Tony Steffert 

Questionnaires

There are three separate questionnaires to fill out on this page. You do not need to do them all at the same time but it would be great if you could do them all before the recording session. 

If you are participating in this study, you should have been emailed an anonymous ID number (i.e., something like: c001). Please use this in the “Name / ID” field and not your real name.

When you click on the ‘Submit‘ button at the end of each questionnaire, this will give you your scores and a brief explanation. You only have to enter your email address if you want the results emailed to you!

Mindfulness & Interoception Survey

Mehling WE, Price C, Daubenmier JJ, Acree M, Bartmess E, Stewart A. (2012) The Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA). PLoS ONE 7(11): e48230. More Information

Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(4), 822. Link

 

This survey has 20 questions and there will be a bit more information about this questionnaire after you filled them in, as we don't want to bias your answers before you do the questionnaire.

If you are participating in a studies, you should have been emailed an anonymous ID number. (i.e., something like: c001).

Your scores will be displayed when you pushed the submit button.

You only have to enter your email if you want the results emailed to you!

 

Please indicate how often each statement applies to you generally in daily life.

ID or Name:
E-Mail (If you want your results emailed to you):
1. When I am tense, I notice where the tension is located in my body.
2. I notice when I am uncomfortable in my body.
3. I notice where in my body I am comfortable.
4. I notice changes in my breathing, such as whether it slows down or speeds up.
5. I can pay attention to my breath without being distracted by things happening around me.
6. I can maintain awareness of my inner bodily sensations even when there is a lot going on around me.
7. When I am in conversation with someone, I can pay attention to my posture.
8. I can return awareness to my body if I am distracted.
9. I can refocus my attention from thinking to sensing my body.
10. I can maintain awareness of my whole body even when a part of me is in pain or discomfort.
11. I am able to consciously focus on my body as a whole.
12. When I feel overwhelmed, I can find a calm place inside.
13. When I bring awareness to my body, I feel a sense of calm.
14. I can use my breath to reduce tension.
15. When I am caught up in thoughts, I can calm my mind by focusing on my body/breathing.
16. It seems I am “running on automatic” without much awareness of what I’m doing.
17. I run through activities without being really attentive to them.
18. I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch with what I am doing right now to get there.
19. I do jobs or tasks automatically, without being aware of what I’m doing.
20. I find myself doing things without paying attention.

The Perceived Stress Scale

(Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of health and social behavior, 385-396.)

 

If you are participating in a studies, you should have been emailed an anonymous ID number. (i.e., something like: c001).

When you click on the 'Submit' button at the end of each questionnaire, this will give you your scores and a brief explanation. You only have to enter your email address if you want the results emailed to you!

 

Instructions:

The questions in this scale ask you about your feelings and thoughts during THE LAST MONTH.   In each case, you will be asked to indicate your response by selecting the circle to the left of the word representing HOW OFTEN you felt or thought a certain way.

Although some of the questions are similar, there are differences between them and you should treat each one as a separate question. The best approach is to answer fairly quickly. That is, don’t try to count up the number of times you felt a particular way, but rather indicate the alternative that seems like a reasonable estimate.

ID or Name:
E-Mail (If you want your results emailed to you):
1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?
2. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?
3. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and “stressed”?
4. In the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do?
5. In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that happened that were outside of your control?
6. In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?
7. In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?
8. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?
9. In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?
10. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?

Comments:

If you have any other comments you would like to make, you can add them here.Please put your ID or name, if you want need a specific answer.

Part Two: Remote Resonant Breathing Training Study

Are you interested in training your slow breathing to increase your heart rate variability?

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The Daily Practice

Most of us have learnt bad breathing habits during our lives, with shallow breathing from our chest and we have lost the art of deep breathing using our diaphragm, the muscle that separates the lungs from the abdomen. Given we breathe in and out on average around 25,000 times a day, it would make sense to get it right and stay healthy.

Now let’s practise breathing with your diaphragm or “belly breathing”. If you place a hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage on your belly, as you breathe in slowly through your nose, the hand on your chest should remain still but the one on your stomach should move in and out. You do not need to hold your breath in or out at the start or end, just try and match the pacer as best you can.

Breathing Ratio:

The breathing pacers are set at a 40/60, Inhalation to Exhalation ratio. This means you breathe in quicker than breathing out.

The objective is to learn a new habit of breathing slowly and comfortably from your diaphragm, and achieve automaticity, so you do not have to think about breathing in the new way. But it should not be hard work and you should definitely not get dizzy. You may feel you lose concentration and forget to follow the breathing pacer so just focus your attention on the circle and use it to guide your breathing.

(These are only recommendations, that are likely to help most people. But it is important that you find a method that works for you. We don’t want to be prescriptive about this, after all, we know it’s “Different (Breath) strokes for different folks”).

Time of Day:

Find a quiet time in the day that you are going to use for the training. The time of day affect from the circadian rhythm, does have an impact on your HRV, so it would be useful to try and do the training at a regular time of day and of course this will help create a habit of a regular bit of “ME TIME”.

But we know, we all have very busy lives, and we realise this will be difficult to achieve, so it’s more important to do the training whenever you can. Whether you are a ‘morning lark’ or a ‘night owl’ it is important to find a time of day that works for you. Ideally a time where you can switch off from the world and not be disturbed for 10 minutes while you focus on your breathing and creating a new habit.

It should be noted that the EliteHRV app. is mainly design for taking the daily HRV measurement and it does not have great biofeedback displays. So, the most useful screen to use when you start your custom breathing is the HR display, that plots each heartbeat as it speeds up and slows down. You want to try and create as big a wave as possible with your Heart Rate increasing as you inhale and decreasing as you breathe out.

EliteHRV_Paced_Breathing

If you want to listen to music as you go, please do, just watch the breathing pacer at the top of the screen and your HRV wave increase and decrease at the bottom.

Just doing the slow diaphragmatic breathing for 10 minutes a day should be good for a wide range of stress related issues and help you build a new normal breathing pattern. But there are two other ways you can also use this technique with acute stressors.

For example, if you have just had an upsetting or stressful event, you can use the breathing technique to try and recover more quickly. We all know this would be a bad time to respond so if you can withdraw from the situation and find a quiet place for a couple of minutes to do the breathing, this could help you avoid making angry or stressful responses.

Also, if you know you are about to have a stressful event, like giving a presentation. You can do the breathing for a few minutes before the task, this should help reduce your stress levels and give more “headroom” when the stressor starts. If you can make this new breathing technique automatic, this should increase your resilience to the stresses of everyday life and allow you to concentrate more and make better decisions both at work and home.

If you have any questions or problems with the App. or hardware, just contact me, any time. 

All the best on your journey to a new habit.