Study examines weight and stress links to circulation

December 11, 2012

Murdoch University’s School of Psychology is seeking female participants for a study on how stress and being overweight/obese affect blood flow in the skin.

Postgraduate researcher Marie Sevastos said the study would also examine how relaxation techniques might be used as an accessible and non-invasive form of intervention and prevention.

“Stress impairs body function, as does being overweight or obese,” Ms Sevastos said.

“We know blood vessels under stress become constricted and that they become constricted when people are overweight. What we want to determine in our study is whether the two-fold impact of being obese and stressed has a synergistic effect.”

Ms Sevastos said research was needed to inform a broader body of evidence for the effects of blood flow in obesity, as the condition is commonly associated with problems such as chronic inflammatory reactions, blunted pain responses from nerve damage, and problems sensing heat and cooling the body.

“Obesity and poor circulation are related to diabetic neuropathy, which can severely impact a person’s quality of life. And once a person has the condition, it’s hard to reverse,” Ms Sevastos said.

“The conditions are also linked to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.”

To inform better prevention strategies, the study will examine the effects of active relaxation on blood flow.

“We’re interested in how effective relaxation techniques could be at counteracting constriction. If we can teach people to relax through guided breathing, it could be a form of intervention,” Ms Sevastos said.

The study currently requires 40 female participants – 20 overweight/obese and 20 of normal weight. Participants must be free of medication, non-smokers and non-diabetics, preferably under the age of 40.

Participants will need to be available for two three-hour sessions, for which they will be renumerated at $50/session. To get involved, contact Marie Sevastos by email or on 0422 071 320.

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