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

Volunteers needed for a Resonance Breathing Assessment Study

(Phase 1: A Single Session Study)

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

We are running a research study to investigate how slow breathing affects people’s heart rate variability and physiological responses and to see if people can then train their breathing to increase their heart rate variability (HRV).

In the first part of this study, we are interested to find out which breathing rate gives the highest HRV, a measure of how much variability in time’ there is between successive heartbeats; 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 slow down 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 the data we collect, we will compute your ‘resonant breathing rate’, which is believed to be the optimal healthy breathing rate that it is beneficial to practise several times a week.

The first part of the study is a single in-person session that will take approximately one hour during which we will record your heart rate from sensors on your wrists and measure your respiration rate from a belt around your waist over your clothes. Your pulse and skin conductance activity will be captured from sensors on your fingers, while you breathe at 7 different slow rates of 5:15 minutes each. There are also some on-line questionnaires about Perceived stress, Mindfulness & Interoception and demographic that will take around 20 minutes for you to complete.

We will recruit around 50 fit and healthy people over the age of 18. Please do not volunteer unless you have been double vaccinated for COVID for at least 14 days, and that you or a member of your household do not have any Coronavirus symptoms. Also, 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.

In accordance with government guidelines, both researchers conducting the data collection have been double vaccinated for COVID and will have to have a negative lateral flow antigen test within the three days prior to the session you attend. We will also wear masks in the session. Once we are set-up we will move to a safe distance, and you will be able to remove your mask during the breathing exercises.

Before coming to the recording session, please make sure you take a lateral flow test within three days before the session. The lateral flow test must be negative in order for you to be a participant in our study. You should contact us to reschedule your visit if you have recently acquired any of the following: fever, cough or shortness of breath. Check the NHS website for Symptoms: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/

The only personal data recorded will be your name and contact details, which will only be used for booking your session. This data will not be shared by the researchers and will be kept in a password-protected document temporarily on a password protected computer before being transferred to a secure Open University server.

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 (ordo.open.ac.uk). We can send you a report of your ‘resonant breathing rate’ and copies of your data if you want to review and use it for your own ongoing training.

In accordance with ethical guidelines, you will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without giving a reason and do not have to answer any questions you do not like. Also, you can withdraw your data from the study up until 01/12/2021, by emailing tony.steffert@open.ac.uk. After which time the data will be fully anonymised and aggregated for group analysis so would not be possible to identify to withdraw.

This project has been reviewed by and been given a favourable opinion by the Open University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and has been assigned the reference HREC/4117/Steffert/Banks. If you have any ethical concerns about this project and need to contact an independent advisor, please email Dr Francesco Crea, a Medical Doctor and Head of Research () in the School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences at the Open University.

If you want to take part in phase 2 “Remote Resonant Breathing Training” Study please bring your Smartphone or Tablet, so we can install and set-up the App.

If you’re interested in volunteering or have any questions, please contact me.

Dr Tony Steffert, Mobile:   +44 (0)7966 484 289,  E-mail:   

Booking an Resonant Breathing Assessment

This session will take around 1 hour of your time.

There are two bookable slots available each hour between 4 pm to 7 pm on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as between 2 pm and 7 pm on Wednesdays.

To book your session, first pick “Sports Lab 1” with Dr Tony Steffert or “Sports Lab 2” with Dr Andrea Firth-Clark. Then pick one of the dates highlighted in blue, and the time that suits you best. The time you choose will then be highlighted in green.

After that, please enter your name or ID, email address, and press ‘Submit’.

You will get an email showing you have requested a session.

Then we will email you to confirm that your session is booked or will let you know if we need to arrange a different date/time. 

Thank you – and we look forward to seeing you soon. Tony and Andrea.

Volunteers needed for a Remote Resonant Breathing Training Study (Phase 2)

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

Most of us have learnt breathing habits during our lives, with shallow breathing from our chest. 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 phase of the study is a 6-week home based daily training program (5 or more days a week), of 10 minutes breathing training. You will be asked to breathe at the rate found to give your highest Heart Rate Variability (HRV) from the data obtained in the first part of the study. This 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 take part in this second part of the study to do the first part, but if you want to do this second part you will need to have completed the single in-person session in  the first part to find your ‘Resonant Breathing Rate’. This second part of the study will be done remotely so you will not need to come into contact with us, but the first part of the study is in-person so you will need to be double vaccinated and not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

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.

In accordance with ethical guidelines, you will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without giving a reason and do not have to answer any questions you do not like. Also, you can withdraw your data from the study up until 01/06/2022, by emailing tony.steffert@open.ac.uk. After which time the data will be fully anonymised and aggregated for group analysis so would not be possible to identify to withdraw.

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 assessed 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. Therefore, at the end of the 6 weeks home training, you will be asked some questions about how you found it and you would do the Perceived stress, and Mindfulness & Interoception questionnaires again.

You will need a Smartphone or Tablet to run the app. and will be given a Kyto ear clip sensor to measure your HRV and a Smartphone app. We will email you an anonymous email and password to use with 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. This data will not be shared by the researchers and will be kept in a password-protected document on a password protected computer with the data transferred to a secure university server at the end of each session. 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 (ordo.open.ac.uk) 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.

This project has been reviewed by and been given a favourable opinion by the Open University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and has been assigned the reference HREC/4117/Steffert/Banks. If you have any ethical concerns about this project and need to contact an independent advisor, please email Dr Francesco Crea, a Medical Doctor and Head of Research () in the School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences at the Open University.

If you’re interested in volunteering or have any questions, please contact me.

Dr Tony Steffert, Mobile:   +44 (0)7966 484 289,  E-mail:   

Part One: In-Person Resonant Breathing Assessment Study

Information Sheet for participating in a research project - (Phase 1)

This first study is a single in-person session and will take around 1 hour of your time, 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 your skin conductance activity. We will also put a respiration sensor belt around your waist, over your clothing, and connect some stick-on sensors to your wrists to measure your electrocardiogram (ECG), as well as some sensors on your fingers to measure your pulse wave and skin conductance.

You will be asked to sit comfortably at a laptop and be instructed to follow an onscreen breathing pacer bar that will guide you to breathe in and out at a fixed speed for 5:15 minutes each at 7, 6.5, 6, 5.5 and 5 breaths per minute, as well as at two “normal breath” self-paced rates. The breathing pacers are set at a 40/60, Inhalation to Exhalation ratio. This means you breathe in quicker than breathing out. After each trial you will be asked to rate how you felt about the breathing rate.

With this data, we will compute your ‘resonant breathing rate’, which is believed to be the optimal healthy breathing rate that it would be beneficial to practise several times a week.

You will be asked to sign a consent form to volunteer for the study and then fill in three on-line or paper, questionnaires, one is called the ‘Perceived stress scale’, which has 10 questions designed to measure how stressed you have been over the last month. The second has 20 questions about ‘Mindfulness & Interoception’, and there are some general demographic questions, that will take around 20 minutes to complete.

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 locked room and will not be shared.

We plan to publish a scientific paper on this data and in accordance with ‘open science’ guidelines, and with your consent, your physiological and questionnaire data will be anonymised and used for academic articles, research talks, media presentations etc., and deposited in a specialist “Open Science” data centre for future research and learning, and we can send you a report of your ‘resonant breathing rate’ and copies of your data if you want to review and use for ongoing training.

Before we start the study you will be asked if you consent to voluntary to participate in the study, but 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 01/12/2021, when the data will be fully anonymised and aggregated for group analysis, so would not be possible to identify to withdraw.

In accordance with government guidelines, both researchers conducting the data collection have been double vaccinated for COVID and will have to have a negative lateral flow antigen test within the three days prior to the session you attend. We will also wear masks in the session. Once we are set-up we will move to a safe distance, and you will be able to remove your mask during the breathing exercises.

You will be asked to confirm that you have been double vaccinated for COVID for at least 14 days before the session and have had a negative lateral flow antigen test within the last three days, and you or any member of your households have not recently acquired any new covid symptoms and you have not come into contact with anyone who had tested positive for COVID in the last 10 days.

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.

This project has been reviewed and been given a favourable opinion by the Open University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and has been assigned the reference HREC/4117/Steffert/Banks. If you have any ethical concerns about this project and need to contact an independent advisor, please email Dr Francesco Crea, a Medical Doctor and Head of Research ()  in the School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences at the Open University.

Please keep this document for your information. I would also be very happy to chat with you about the study or HRV in general, and if you have any further questions after this session, just email or call.

Dr Tony Steffert, Mobile:   +44 (0)7966 484 289,  E-mail:   

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

Information Sheet for participating in a research project - (Phase 2)

The second part of this study is a 6-week home based daily training program, where we would like you to do a 10-minute breathing training exercise for 5 or more days a week.

At the end of the 6-weeks you will also be asked to fill in the same, ‘Perceived stress scale’, and ‘Mindfulness & Interoception’ questionnaires as in part 1 and answer some general questions about how you found the training.

It will be necessary to complete the single in-person session in the first part of this study, to find your individual ‘Resonant Breathing Rate’ in order to take part in this second part of the study. Therefore, you will need to have been double vaccinated for COVID for at least 14 days before the session and have had a negative lateral flow antigen test within the last three days. Also, you or any member of your households have not recently acquired any new COVID-19 symptoms and you have not come into contact with anyone who had tested positive for COVID in the last 10 days.

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.

You will be given an ear clip sensor to measure your Heart Rate Variability (HRV) on your smart Phone, and will need to download a Phone App. We will also give you an anonymous ID, email and password to use with the App, so your identity will be fully anonymous.

In accordance with the Open University’s ethics guidelines, 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 01/06/2022, when the data will be fully anonymised and aggregated for group analysis, so would not be possible to identify to withdraw.

This breathing training is intended to help establish a new slow diaphragm or “belly breathing’ habit for 10-minutes a day for 5 or more days a week, that has been shown to release stress and improve mood, focus, energy, and performance. The breathing pacers will be set at a 40/60, Inhalation to Exhalation ratio. This means you breathe in quicker than breathing out.

This project has been reviewed by and been given a favourable opinion by the Open University’s Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) and has been assigned the reference HREC/4117/Steffert/Banks. If you have any ethical concerns about this project and need to contact an independent advisor, please email Dr Francesco Crea, a Medical Doctor and Head of Research () in the School of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences at the Open University.

All the best on your journey to a new habit, and if you have any questions or problems with the App. or hardware, just contact me, any time.

Dr Tony Steffert, Mobile:  +44 (0)7966 484 289, E-mail: 

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.