The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults

Contributed By: Mindstrong Harvey

Diaphragmatic breathing training

Principal Investigators

Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., … & Li, Y. F.

Publishing Date




A diaphragmatic breathing program significantly impacted attention, emotion, and stress levels in healthy adults.

Key Insights

The diaphragmatic breathing program entailed 20 sessions of 30 minutes of concentrated breathing (15 minutes of resting breathing, 15 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing – verbal guidance from instructor). The key measure for attention was the Number Cancelling Test (NCT) The key measure for emotion (negative affect) was the Postitive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) The key measure for stress was salivary cortisol levels (Salivette Cortisol). Diaphragmatic breathing averaged 4 breaths/minute, while resting breathing averaged 17 breaths/minute.


Main Takeaways: 1. 20 sessions of diaphragmatic breathing can have a positively significant impact on healthy adults’ ability to sustain attention, reduce negative affect, and decrease cortisol levels. 2. Breathing programs can have positive health implications through simple verbal guidance and minimal prior breath training or education by participants. 3. Breathing is linked with cognitive and physiological wellness markers, but further investigation is needed.

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