The role of deep breathing on stress

Neurol Sci. 2017 Mar;38(3):451-458. doi: 10.1007/s10072-016-2790-8. Epub 2016 Dec 19.


The objective of this study was to verify, in a sample of university students, whether a relaxing technique called deep breathing (stress Intervention Functional IFA) is capable to improve the mood and to reduce the levels of stress. Thirty-eight adult healthy subjects (aged between 18 and 28 years) volunteered the study. They were randomly divided in two groups, the Experimental Group (N = 19) and the Control Group (N = 19). The subjects of the Experimental Group were submitted, once per week, to 10 treatment's sessions of Anti-stress Protocol, each lasting 90 min, whereas subjects of the Control Group sat ten times for 90 min, once per week, without practicing any treatment. The psychological state of mood and stress was evaluated using Measurement of Psychological Stress (MSP) and Profile of Mood State (POMS), while the biological profile of the stress was detected by measuring the heart rate and the salivary cortisol. The results obtained from the present research support the possibility that deep breathing technique is capable to induce an effective improvement in mood and stress both in terms of self-reported evaluations (MPS and POMS) and of objective parameters, such as heart rate and salivary cortisol levels. No statistically significant difference was found between men and women.

Keywords: Cortisol; Deep breathing; Emotion; Stress.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Relaxation Therapy / methods*
  • Respiration*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Young Adult