Brent Burg

Modulation of Parasympathetic Reactivation Post-Exercise via Slow Breathing          

Mary Stenson, Advisor
Jen Schaefer
Clark Cotton     

Brent's research in his own words:

My study tested the effects of controlled slow breathing (6 breaths per minute) versus normal spontaneous breathing on parasympathetic nervous system reactivation, measured via heart rate variability (HRV), after exercise. Participants conducted a maximal oxygen uptake test (VO2max) to prescribe treadmill speed and grade for two experimental exercise sessions. The exercise sessions entailed a baseline (HRV) data collection of 5-minutes via an ECG, participants running for 32 minutes at 70% VO2max (usually a little over three miles at 2-4% grade), and 30 minutes of recovery after exercise wherein HRV data was collected via ECG. During first 10-minutes of the recovery of the experimental trial participants conducted a controlled breathing technique of 6 breaths per minute, via a visual metronome, and displayed a statistically significant increase in parasympathetic activity, across time-domain and non-linear HRV analysis measures, during the 10-minutes of slow breathing versus spontaneous breathing. HRV levels were statistically the same during the last 20-minutes of recovery between spontaneous and slow breathing trials.

What inspired you to select your thesis topic?

When selecting my thesis topic I wanted to choose something directly related to the manipulation of physiology rather than a more psychological or observational study. Slow breathing interested me because of its lack of research as a recovery tool after exercise, as well as, my own rewarding experience with mindfulness meditation and slow breathing techniques. Treadmill exercise was an obvious choice for me because of my familiarity with maximal treadmill testing protocols both in my coursework and while working as an Exercise Science and Sports Studies laboratory assistant for student employment.   

What advice would you give to future CSBSJU Thesis Scholars:

Undergraduate research will take a lot of time and effort. It will also add another thing you will need to balance in addition too class, a social life, sports, and your physical and mental health. Most of your classmates will not take on such rigorous projects and simply settle for abbreviated capstone research projects or papers. However, because of its necessary effort, difficulty, and, potentially, novel nature undergraduate research will likely be the most rewarding and beneficial academic experience that you can have at CSBSJU.       

Brent wishes to acknowledge:

I could not have conducted my project without the guidance of Dr. Mary Stenson and help of Dr.s' Jennifer Schaefer and Clark Cotton. My study also could not have been conducted without the voluntary participation of my participants.