Vital-EQ Respiroguide is an app using wave-based visualization to help users decrease levels of anxiety and stress. The home screen displays a breathing visual aid consisting of a wave with a small yellow circle. Upon pressing play, the small yellow circle moves along the wave to indicate when the user should inhale and exhale breaths. It is set up so that the user achieves 4-7 breaths per minute for 3 minutes.
On iTunes, ‘Lite’ and ‘Pro’ versions of the app are available; the Pro version allows the user to personalize each inhalation length, breathing rate, and the total duration of the breathing exercise. This review refers to the Pro version.
Research base 1/3
Research support 1/2
Specificity of proposed intervention 1/3
Number of consumer ratings 1/3
Product advisory support 0/1
Software support 0/2
date of rating: July 2017
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Available for: iOS 6.1 or later (iPhone, iPad Pro, iPod Touch), Android 2.2 or later
Developer: Vital-EQ (International Institute of Stress Management)
Type of Treatment: Symptom tracker
Targeted Conditions: Stress & Anxiety
Target Audience: Adults
Designed to be used in conjunction with a healthcare professional: No
Languages Available: English, Dutch, and French
Get it on: Google Play, iTunes
Respiroguide has not been studied in an RCT. However, Chittaro and Sioni (2014) evaluated the efficacy of Respiroguide against two other distinct mobile app designs for breathing training (one audio only, one visual only). Sixty-eight adults with no prior history of breathing training used each app, physiological data was collected, and perceived effectiveness questionnaires were completed. Participants showed deeper, slower respiration when using Respiroguide compared to the audio only app, but not compared to the other visual app. Respiroguide was also perceived by participants as the most effective in terms of instruction and relaxation.
Breathing training more generally has proven to be effective in reducing physiological and emotional measures of stress in hypertensive adult males (e.g. Aivazyan, Zaitsev, Salenko, Yuerenev, Patrusha, 1988), however RCTs evaluating the efficacy of breathing training via mobile applications are lacking.
- Aivazyan, T. A., Zaitsev, V. P., Salenko, B. B., Yurenev, A. P., & Patrusheva, I. F. (1988). Efficacy of relaxation techniques in hypertensive patients. Health Psychology, 7(Suppl), 193-200. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.7.Suppl.193
- Chittaro, L., & Sioni, R. (2014). Evaluating mobile apps for breathing training: The effectiveness of visualization. Computers In Human Behavior, 4056-63. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.07.049