Tim Brunson DCH

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Guided imagery, anxiety, heart rate, and heart rate variability during centrifuge training.

BACKGROUND: Centrifuge training is an important method of improving the hypergravity tolerance of pilots, cosmonauts, and Chinese astronauts. However, the concomitants of tension or anxiety often impede training. Guided imagery (GI), a mind-body relaxation technique, provides a behavioral and cognitive means whereby individuals are able to exert control over the focus of attention. This study aims to investigate the immediate effects of GI for reducing stress in centrifuge training.

METHODS: There were 12 healthy young men who were randomly assigned to a GI group or music group. We measured changes in heart rate during centrifuge training, in heart rate variability before and after centrifuge training, and also evaluated relaxation and anxiety in three phases: before intervention, after intervention, and following centrifuge training.

RESULTS: The change in the pattern of anxiety was different in the two groups over the three phases. Anxiety (measured by State Anxiety Inventory) in the GI group changed from 31.7 +/- 5.9 to 26.8 +/- 2.6 and 27.8 +/- 4.1, whereas for the music group this changed from 32.2 +/- 7.6 to 31.2 +/- 8.3 and 26.8 +/- 6.8. During centrifuge training, the maximal HR for the GI group (101.2 +/- 8.8) was lower than that of the music group (123.0 +/- 19.1). In addition GI showed a decrease in low frequency (LF, 0.04-0.15 Hz) components and an increase in high frequency (HF, 0.15-0.4 Hz) components before and after centrifuge training.

CONCLUSION: GI was capable of decreasing tension, anxiety, and sympathetic nervous system activity pre- or post-centrifugation.

Aviat Space Environ Med. 2011 Feb;82(2):92-6. Jing X, Wu P, Liu F, Wu B, Miao D. State Key Laboratory of Space Medicine Fundamentals and Application, China Astronaut Research and Training Center, Beijing, China.

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