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Guided Imagery Helps Chinese Astronauts with Centrifuge Training

01 May


Researchers from the Astronaut Research and Training Center in Beijing, China looked at whether guided imagery can reduce the anxiety and tension that astronauts feel during centrifuge training (designed to improve their tolerance of hypergravity) and which can impede their responses.  This small study measured the impact of guided imagery vs. music on changes in anxiety, heart rate and heart rate variability in 12 healthy young men before, during and after centrifuge training.

Change in the patterns 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.

The investigators conclude that guided imagery is capable of decreasing tension, anxiety, and sympathetic nervous system activity pre- or post-centrifugation.

Citation:  Jing X, Wu P, Liu F, Wu B, Miao D. Guided imagery, anxiety, heart rate and heart rate variability during centrifuge training. Aviation, Space & Environmental Medicine. 2011 Feb; 82 (2): pp. 92-6.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award