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EFFECT OF BREATHING EXERCISES, MEDITATION AND COLD EXPOSURE ON RESTING HEART RATE
This N1 study has 1 participant, whose characteristics have been described in the methods section. RHR was measured in total of 39 days, 3 times per day, of which the median was used in final data. First 6 days were used as a baseline measurement, during the other 33 days the WHM training program was followed as described in the method section. RHR in before and after the interventions are presented in table 1, with all the data visualised in figure 1 (page 4). Using skewness and kurtosis analysis, normal distribution of the data was observed for both measuring periods.
Therefore, the independent-samples T test with Alpha of 0.05 has been used. There was a reduction in RHR (P = <0.05) compared with the preintervention period. No related serious advents events were reported.
In this study, the question which was tried to be answered was: “what are the effects of practicing the WHM on resting heart rate after 33 days?”. In addition to the research question, 2 hypothesis were described. H0: There is no significant difference in RHR after practicing the WHM training program on a daily basis in 33 days. Ha: There is a significant difference in RHR after practicing the WHM training program on a daily basis in 33 days. Herein, we show that the effects of the short-term training program are a significantly lowered the RHR, therefore the H0 is rejected.
What are possible explanations for this decrease in RHR? In Wim Hof his book, he states that mainly the cold exposure element of the WHM training program has an influence on the RHR. He states that after years of wearing clothes, turning up the heat e.g., the body is not used to “opening and closing” of the vascular to protect ourselves from the cold and heat, resulting in a ‘constructed vascular system;
“When these little vascular muscles are not tuned up, not working at an optimized condition, our heart is forced to pump much more, deeper and stronger, to get the blood flow through. This puts undue stress on our heart on a chronic basis (...) What happens inside your body when you shift the temperature from warm to cold is that all the little muscles in your vascular system begin to awaken. They close up and then open, close up and open, and this repetitive process establishes the vascular muscle tone that, with repeated exposure, develops into its optimal condition.” 12(p33).
Is there any data available to confirm his theory? Wim Hof is most likely referring to tone of the smooth muscle in the tunica media, which regulation causes either vasoconstriction or vasodilation. Dilation of arteries and arterioles leads to an immediate decrease in arterial blood pressure and heart rate 18, and it has been shown cold water immersion results in rapid cutaneous vasoconstriction 19. However, this acute vasoconstriction has only been showed in cold water immersion, there are no recent studies if this is also the case while cold showering. Also, whether this acute vasoconstriction also results in chronic reduction of muscle tone in the tunica media (resulting ultimately in a lower workload of the heart, thus lowering the RHR), has never been researched while this paper is published.