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The effects of six-week slow, controlled breathing exercises on heart rate variability in physically active, healthy individuals

Published: 25 February 2021
Pedagogy of Physical Culture and Sports , Volume 25, pp 4-9; doi:10.15561/26649837.2021.0101

Abstract: Background and Study Aim: Heart rate variability (HRV) provides information about sympathetic-parasympathetic balance. The effects of different types of physical exercises on HRV have been investigated so far. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the chronic effects of six-week slow and controlled breathing exercise on HRV in physically active, healthy adults. Material and Methods: A total of 22 individuals (11 female, 11 male) participated in the study voluntarily. The experimental group (EG) attended to the breathing exercises for 15 minutes per day, three days a week for six weeks. Neither the EG nor the control group (CG) did join in any regular physical activity program during the study. Both groups participated in the HRV measurements before and after the six-week of process. Results: Only the EG showed statistically significant changes in some HRV parameters. The alterations observed in LF:HF ratio, HFnu, and LFnu parameters were to reflect the increase in parasympathetic activity. Although the changes in the other parameters of HRV such as SDNN, SDSD, RMSSD, TP, HF, LF, and VLF were also related to increased vagal activity, these alterations were not significant. However, no significant change was found in the CG. Conclusions: These results show that only the slow, controlled breathing exercises for six weeks could be used to improve parasympathetic activity in physically active individuals. A study could be designed where the duration is kept over 8 weeks, and the effects of physical exercises only, breathing exercises only, and physical + breathing exercises together on HRV are examined.
Keywords: adults / HRV / Parasympathetic / breathing exercises / physically active / Six Week

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