Science Page

Breathing

Deep breathing increases heart rate variability (HRV) - a marker of stress and sympathetic activation. Higher HRV is associated with a parasympathetic state and also has been shown to have mortality benefits. Long term deep breathing may lower blood pressure and has been shown to reduce anxiety, improve ratings of perceived stress, sleep quality, and exercise tolerance.

Newborns are deep diaphragmatic breathers naturally. However, factors such as temperature, noise, pollution, and anxiety cause adults to become shallow breathers. Shallow breathing may be linked to decreased cognitive function such as making judgment calls and emotional processing. It can also cause less efficient ventilation, worse cardiac output, and can harm sleep quality, which increases pain.

The vagus nerve serves an important purpose in proper breathing as it is the communication pathway between the brain and organs. When stimulated through deep breathing, it counteracts the effects of the sympathetic nervous system that may be taxed, resulting in increased anxiety and stress. It sends messages to the brain and heart based on what breathing indicates. The ideal breathing rate is around 6 breaths per minute as is when you maximize your HRV, a marker of parasympathetic tone.

The diaphragm is the most important muscle in respiration as it accounts for about 80% of total muscle activity during breathing. It impacts multiple organ systems, the autonomic and cardiovascular systems being the two most predominant. The practice of coordinated breathing is aimed at maximizing the use of your diaphragm and eliminating uncoordinated overuse of secondary breathing muscles in the chest such as the intercostals.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27925652/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27995346/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22789789/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4153063/

https://www.jneurosci.org/content/36/49/12448

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5709795/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28871591/

Posture

Studies prove that unhealthy posture not only causes back pain and orthopedic issues but also a series of negative health ramifications including cardiovascular disease, reduced breathing functionality, issues with sexual function, poor digestion, and nerve constriction. Poor posture diminishes. The spine has 3 natural curves and bad posture is the deformation of these 3 natural curves. These curves are under attack from the unnatural static positions we assume all day working on our different screens. Different posture problems arise due to problems associated with each curve.

Neck lordosis, more commonly referred to as “tech neck,” comes from the ubiquitous use of cellphones. It attacks the cervical spine, creating up to 70lbs of pressure on the neck. People who suffer from this forward head position experience accelerated development of spinal arthritis and disc disease. Kyphosis or “hunch-back” is caused by technology use. It is exacerbated by sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen all day. Someone suffering from kyphosis will have a hunched back or a head that leans forward. Lordosis, which is usually called “swayback “is an exaggerated lumbar curve in the lower back part of the spine. It is brought on by improper sitting and weak muscles. It physically presents itself through a bottom and/or stomach that sticks out.

Good posture is whatever way we hold our bodies that creates the least amount of strain. Healthy posture elicits respect from others, helps people stack up against gravity by placing the least amount of strain on the body, and relieves stress on the body. We view posture as a plane and coach individuals to achieve an Optimal Posture Plane. Healthy posture does not only mean standing up straight, it also means learning how to sit and move in a healthy manner. It is not healthy to sit in the same position for extended periods of time and regular movement reduces back pain and risk associated with sedentarism.

There are many benefits that come from practicing healthy posture. People who do so experience fewer headaches and less body pain, increased lung capacity and energy levels, and improved mood, digestion and circulation.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16571389/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26415553/

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2018/4518269/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30409414/ 

Breaks

Desk based employees sit on average for 80,000 hours over the course of their working lives. This is detrimental to their health as sedentarism is positively associated with cardiovascular disease mortality, elevated biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk, high resting blood pressure, adiposity, and aging. Therefore, exclusively meeting recommended physical activity guidelines through traditional exercise might be insufficient to counteract the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting.

The cognitive control system has trouble maintaining an active goal for a prolonged period of time. When people need to perform mindless, monotonous tasks their attention wanes and loses effectiveness. Activation levels of goal representations gradually decrease over time and resource depletion causes strain and poor functioning. People cannot continue to work straight through the day and need a way to replenish drained resources.

The solution to this is taking breaks. Breaks prevent waning attention because they restrengthen the activation level of the task goal. They generate positive affect which leads individuals to seek underexplored paths of thoughts and actions and they also allow for the recuperation of the emotional and cognitive systems. Microbreaks can help individuals reappraise and reframe tasks more confidently. Microbreaks are short, informal, pleasurable activities taken voluntarily between tasks that last anywhere between a few seconds to several minutes.

Software that prompts breaks to engage in free-choice movement activities throughout the day have proven to be effective. According to a study conducted by Mainsbridge in 2018, people should strategically construct their workday activities to allow brief moments for recovery, possibly using a time-tracking app. minder for Apple Watch does just that using 4x patented biofeedback technology. During the day, users are reminded to break and take a “MeMo”, which is an active microbreak. Microbreaks are key to support wellbeing, enhance recovery and improve productivity. minder coaches users to take breaks for better health. Whether taking a breath, stretching in place, going for a walk or even drinking a glass of water, each break is a moment to improve physical and mental health.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21211793/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324099757_Daily_Micro-Breaks_and_Job_Performance_General_Work_Engagement_as_a_Cross-Level_Moderator

https://journals.lww.com/joem/Fulltext/2018/09000/Blood_Pressure_Response_to_Interrupting_Workplace.1.aspx