Study analyzes athlete relaxation

Megan Granquist, above, and Sarah Dunn present their research results during the faculty titled “The Effects of Relaxation Training on Stress Indicators in Trained and Untrained Individuals,” Monday. The pair conducted a study of 60 cortisol profiles. / photo by Mitchell Aleman
Megan Granquist, above, and Sarah Dunn present their research results during the faculty titled “The Effects of Relaxation Training on Stress Indicators in Trained and Untrained Individuals,” Monday. The pair conducted a study of 60 cortisol profiles. / photo by Mitchell Aleman

Monique Parra
Staff Writer

Assistant professors of movement and sports science Sarah Dunn and Megan Granquist discussed their research, “The Effects of Relaxation Training on Stress Indicators in Trained and Untrained Individuals” during Monday’s faculty.

Granquist began the lecture by leading a five-minute breathing-relaxation exercise to help allow the body to deeply relax and rest.

“If we teach athletes how to relax in a relaxing situation, potentially they’ll be able to relax in a stressful situation over time,” Granquist said.

The collaborative project began as a discussion over lunch between Dunn and Granquist, and it led to a fairly large study.

Dunn’s interest in early cardiometabolic risks and Granquist’s interest in cortisols-stress hormone-effect on sports injury and rehabilitation led them to the research study.

“There were no studies looking at cortisol related to the sports study out there,” Granquist said.

“Really it (started) at Coffeeberry, but it led to something bigger and better, and we are excited about where it is heading,” Dunn said.

Participants began with an introductory day of questioners, which led to test day one with a 30-minute relaxation exercise to lower their cortisol levels.

Test day two tested saliva, blood pressure and was a resting day, and day three tested the participant’s blood.

The study so far has completed 20 out of the 60 cortisol profiles they began with.

They based their training on three days a week of physical activity, while the untrained had little physical activity each week.

The current statistics are limited by the small number of participants so far, the professors said; however the study results will be more stable as they it continues to develop it with more research and tests.

The study showed that during test day one the cortisol relationship increased, while the cortisol decreased during test day two, the rest session.

“Knowing a bit about meditation practices, even sitting for five minutes for the first time, can be hard so the idea of having someone sit 30 minutes could actually cause stress so that meditation in a sense is built over time,” said Zandra Wagoner, University chaplain.

Distractions may cause cortisol levels to vary due to the noise and temperature in the lab space, time of day, compliance and stress prior to arriving. ULV graduate Micaela Castillo’s senior thesis was on the effects of the relaxation intervention on trained individuals.

Castillo’s statistics were displayed during Monday’s presentation.

“This study has opened a lot of doors for me, a lot of opportunities and has been an incredible learning experience,” Castillo said.

“This sounds wonderful,” said professor of psychology Aghop Der-Karabetian. “I feel like you have a wonderful collaboration going and I can see a long term research program that has a lot of potential.”

Monique Parra can be reached at monique.parra@laverne.edu.

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