Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress

Om hvordan diafragmisk pust (med magen) øker antioksidantbeskyttelsen og restitusjonen ved å senke kortison og øke melatonin. Gjort på et 24t sykkerlritt hvor de som gjorde 1t pusteing før de sovnet fikk raskere restitusjon. Nevner direkte sammenheng mellom kortisol og melatonin. Og påstår at pusten bør implementeres i ethvert treningsregime som restitusjon.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3139518/

Analysis of oxidative stress levels in people who meditate indicated that meditation correlates with lower oxidative stress levels, lower cortisol levels and higher melatonin levels. It is known that cortisol inhibits enzymes responsible for the antioxidant activity of cells and that melatonin is a strong antioxidant

Results demonstrate that relaxation induced by diaphragmatic breathing increases the antioxidant defense status in athletes after exhaustive exercise. These effects correlate with the concomitant decrease in cortisol and the increase in melatonin. The consequence is a lower level of oxidative stress, which suggests that an appropriate diaphragmatic breathing could protect athletes from long-term adverse effects of free radicals.

Stress is defined as a physiological reaction to undesired emotional or physical situations. Initially, stress induces an acute response (fight or flight) that is mediated by catecholamines. When stress becomes chronic and lasts for a long time, the stressed organism reacts with physiological alterations to adapt to the unfavorable conditions. This ACTH-mediated reaction affects the immune and neuroendocrine systems, and it is responsible for several diseases [1]. Numerous data support the hypothesis that the pathophysiology of chronic stress can be due, at least partially, to an increase in oxidative stress [24], which may also contributes to heart disease [5,6], rheumatoid arthritis [7,8], hypertension [9,10], Alzheimer’s disease [11,12], Parkinson’s disease [13], atherosclerosis [14] and, finally, aging [15].

High levels of glucocorticoids are known to decrease blood reduced glutathione (GSH) and erythrocyte superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in rats [20]. Other enzymes are also involved, and NADPH oxidase, xanthine oxidase and uncoupled endothelial nitric oxide synthase are important sources of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in glucocorticoid-induced oxidative stress (see [9] for a review on this argument).

Hormonal reactions to stressors, in particular plasma cortisol levels, are lower in people who meditate than in people who do not [3136], suggesting that it is possible to modulate the neuroendocrine system through neurological pathways. Analysis of oxidative stress levels in people who meditate indicated that transcendental meditation, Zen meditation and Yoga correlate with lower oxidative stress levels [3743].

Melatonin could also be involved in the reduction of oxidative stress because increased levels of this hormone have been reported after meditation [4446]. This neurohormone is considered a strong antioxidant and is used as a treatment for aging. Melatonin in fact, increases several intracellular enzymatic antioxidant enzymes, such as SOD and glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) [47,48], and induces the activity of γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase, thereby stimulating the production of the intracellular antioxidant GSH (49]. A number of studies have shown that melatonin is significantly better than the classic antioxidants in resisting free-radical-based molecular destruction. In these in vivostudies, melatonin was more effective than vitamin E, β-carotene [5052] and vitamin C [5355].

Although it has been established that a continuous and moderate physical activity reduces stress, intense and prolonged exercise is deleterious and needs a proper recovery procedure.

Plasma cortisol levels increase in response to intense and prolonged exercise [60,61]. Ponjee et al. [62] demonstrated that cortisol increased significantly in male athletes after they ran a marathon. In another study, plasma ACTH and cortisol were found elevated in highly trained runners and in sedentary subjects after intense treadmill exercise [63].

Most, if not all, meditation procedures involve diaphragmatic breathing (DB), which is the act of breathing deeply into the lungs by flexing the diaphragm rather than the rib cage. DB is relaxing and therapeutic, reduces stress and is a fundamental procedure of Pranayama Yoga, Zen, transcendental meditation and other meditation practices.

Athletes were monitored during a training session for a 24-h long contest. This type of race lasts for 24h, generally starting at 10:00am and ending at 10:00am the following day. Bikers ride as many kilometers as possible on a specific circuit trail in the 24-h period. Athletes are allowed to stop, to sleep, to rest and to eat as much food as they want to eat.

Subjects of the studied group were previously trained to relax by performing DB and concentrating on their breath. These athletes spent 1h (6:30–7:30pm) relaxing performing DB in a quiet place. The other eight subjects, representing the control group, spent the same time sitting in an equivalent quite place. The only activity allowed was reading magazines. Lighting levels were monitored throughout the experiment and did not exceed 15 lux, a level well below that known to influence melatonin secretion [73,74].

As expected, the exercise induced a strong oxidative stress in athletes (Figure 1).

BAP (Biological Antioxidant Potential) levels were determined at different times, before and after exercise. Athletes were divided in two equivalent groups of eight subjects. Subjects of the studied group spent 1h relaxing performing DB and concentrating on their breath in a quiet place. The other eight subjects, representing the control group, spent the same time sitting in an equivalent quite place. Since this test must be performed several hours after food ingestion, BAP levels were determined pre-exercise at 8:00am before breakfast, at 2:00am, and at 8:00am 24h post-exercise. Values shown are mean ± SD. *P < .05 DB versus control group. **P < .01 DB versus control group.

This study demonstrates that DB reduces the oxidative stress induced by exhaustive exercise. To our knowledge, this is the first study which explores the effect of DB on the stress caused by exhaustive physical activity.

The rationale is as follows (Figure 5)

  1. intense exercise increases cortisol production;
  2. a high plasmatic level of cortisol decreases body antioxidant defenses;
  3. a high plasmatic level of cortisol correlates with a high level of oxidative stress;
  4. DB reduces the production of cortisol;
  5. DB increases melatonin levels;
  6. melatonin is a strong antioxidant;
  7. DB increases the BAP and
  8. DB reduces oxidative stress.

If these results are confirmed in other intense physical activity programs, relaxation could be considered an effective practice to significantly contrast the free radical-mediated oxidative damage induced by intense exercise. Therefore, similar to the way that antioxidant supplementation has been integrated into athletic training programs, DB or other meditation techniques should be integrated into many sports as a method to improve performance and to accelerate recovery.

Hyperventilation, in fact, induces hyperoxia which is known to be related with oxidative stress [81,82]. The hyperventilation syndrome affects 15% of the population and occurs when breathing rates elevate to 21–23 bpm as a result of constricted non-DB. DB can treat hyperoxia and its consequences acting by two synergic ways: restoring the normal breath rhythm and reducing oxidative stress mainly through the increase in melatonin production which is known for its ability to reduce oxidative stress induced by exposure to hyperbaric hyperoxia [83].

Moreover, Orme-Johnson observed greatly reduced pathology levels in regular meditation practitioners [84,85]. A 5 years statistic of approximately 2000 regular participants demonstrated that Transcendental Meditation reduced benign and malignant tumors, heart disease, infectious diseases, mental disorders and diseases of the nervous system. Mourya et al. evidenced that slow-breathing exercises may influence autonomic functions reducing blood pressure in patients with essential hypertension [86]. Finally, there are also evidences that procedures which involve the control of the breathing can positively affect type 2 Diabetes [87], depression, pain [88], high glucose level and high cholesterol [89].

The role of melatonin must also be emphasized. Beyond its antioxidant properties, melatonin is involved in the regulation of the circadian sleep-wake rhythm and in the modulation of hormones and the immune system. Due to its wide medical implications, the increase in melatonin levels induced by DB suggests that this breath procedure deserves to be included in public health improvement programs.

DB increased the levels of melatonin in athletes, and this correlates with lower oxidative stress (ROMs), with lower cortisol levels and with the higher antioxidant status (BAP) in these athletes.

Tooley et al. [46] speculated that meditation-reduced hepatic blood flow [91] could raise the plasma levels of melatonin. Alternatively, since meditation increases plasma levels of noradrenaline [92] and urine levels of the metabolite 5HIAA [93], a possible direct action on the pineal gland could be hypothesized, as melatonin is synthesized in the pineal by serotonin under a noradrenaline stimulus [94]. More likely, we suspect that the increase in melatonin levels determined in our experiment can be mainly attributed to the reduced cortisol levels. Actually, a relationship between cortisol and melatonin rhythms has been observed [95], indicating that melatonin onset typically occurs during low cortisol secretion.

Overall, these data demonstrate that relaxation induced by DB increases the antioxidant defense status in athletes after exhaustive exercise. These effects correlate with the concomitant decrease in cortisol, which is known to negatively affect antioxidant defenses, and the increase in melatonin, a strong antioxidant. The consequence is a lower level of oxidative stress, which suggests that an appropriate recovery could protect athletes from long-term adverse effects of free radicals.

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