Relaxation Effects of Musically Guided Resonance Breathing: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study

Dominik Fuchs, Thomas K Hillecke, Marco Warth


Recent evidence shows that both music therapy and resonance breathing (breathing at about 0.1 Hz) may be effective in treating stress-related symptoms and promoting relaxation. However, no study has yet explored the potential of integrating the working mechanisms into a combined approach using live played music to guide respiration. Therefore, the objective of the present pilot study was to evaluate the psychophysiological effects of a combined intervention. A total of 60 healthy adults were randomized to either the experimental group or the control group (where participants listened to prerecorded relaxation music). Heart rate and heart rate variability were extracted for the following 5-minute segments: Resting baseline, stress task, intervention, resting post-intervention. Additionally, self-evaluation scores for relaxation and general well-being were assessed with visual analogue scales. Significant time × group interaction effects were found for general well-being (p = .028) and heart rate variability as measured by RMSSD (p < .001), indicative of increased parasympathetic outflow in the experimental group. In conclusion, the combination of music therapy and resonance breathing seems to be a well-received and effective way to induce relaxation and well-being in healthy adults.  

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