Modern society is suffering for modern pathology that medicine can only partially address. Pathologies that were always related to ageing, like back pain, neck pain and even arthrosis, are appearing earlier in life, even in adolescents. The only rationale identified up to now seems to be stress. In fact, musculoskeletal somatization of psychological stress is probably one of the first alarms related to stress excess and it is known in the literature for both adolescents and adults. Moreover, young age, where creation of self-regulation mechanisms for stress management is crucial, corresponds with the time of life when people go through education which makes these two events inseparable. Addressing the aspect of stress management indirectly affects the process of learning. During our life we face several stressful situations. Some might be avoided, but the most of them are simply part of life and we must learn to self-regulate our stress. Accordingly, teaching how to relax and breath is becoming the aim of many studies, and several oriental disciplines like Tai Chi, QiGong and Yoga are increasingly used in clinical trials to teach subjects how to breath and relax.

Fig. 1 Number of publications per range of years found on Pubmed. Keywords Tai Chi, or TaiChi or Taiji were searched in title or abstract.

Fig. 1 Number of publications per range of years found on Pubmed. Keywords Tai Chi, or TaiChi or Taiji were searched in title or abstract.

However, the fact that a big portion of the young population give the impression of being unable to control their breathing introduces a big problem in the management of stress, affecting learning, productivity, wellbeing and social cohesion, especially in socially disadvantaged populations. The above mentioned techniques are known to teach breathing through learning specific posture and movements. Posture presents as a third link that might influence the management of stress unders the mediation of breathing. Understanding the triangular relationship among breathing, posture and self-regulation could, in the short term, improve the efficacy/efficiency of interventions aiding students in acquiring self-regulatory breathing techniques, and in the long term provide different approaches to predict/prevent the development of several musculoskeletal diseases.

However, models that aim to predict the ability to manage stress or the development of musculoskeletal diseases must take into consideration several biological and social factors. All those factors interact among them creating a nonlinear dynamic system with possible presence of mathematical chaos.

To create a successful model two points must be addressed. The first is the reduction of the variables to analyse to the most significant one. The second is to create a campaign of experimental analysis to collect enough empirical data. BYMBOS aims to solve the first issue verifying the importance of breathing as a mediator between posture and self-regulation, therefore reducing the number of variables to monitor while focussing mainly over breathing. The second will be faced with a campaign of experimental acquisition.
The Human Development Index lists length of life and access to education as two of the three key dimensions of human development. However, longer life is not an achievement if it is not healthy. Access to education is not an achievement if students cannot learn.


The primary goal of the wellbeing initiative in UPF is to increase knowledge and understanding of the set of complex, interrelated and systemic problems affecting the wellbeing of humans, animals and the planet itself, as a global ecosystem, and to identify innovative and integrated interdisciplinary solutions for them. BYMBOS aims to increase our knowledge of the interrelationships among stress, breathing and posture that affect wellbeing of humans. The environment in which we live constantly places us in situations of stress. Some of them might be reduced, some others are simply part of life and it should be our responsibility to learn how to manage them. The presence of stress and the strategy we use to manage it became both part of the dynamic system that affects our results and that will define our future. Choosing university students as subjects of the study, we tackle two of the relevant areas of planetary wellbeing, health and education, and how they interact between each other in a close loop. Bad university results can induce a situation of stress that can further decrease university performances and in the long term might lead to development of musculoskeletal diseases. BYMBOS will develop basic knowledge to understand this chain of event and possibly break it. Learning to self-manage physical and psychological stress means to be less demanding over society, especially medical realities, and therefore living within the limits of what can be given and restoring the ability to contribute to society.

Interdisciplinary Project

This project is bringing together several expertise developed within UPF. Among the most relevant we envision:
  • Biomechanics - Highly multidisciplinar by definition, it includes mechanics of posture and breathing and related physiological modeling and study of muscular co-contraction as initiation cause of musculoskeletal disease. 
  • Cognitive science and Teaching - Stressful situations of collaborative learning will be reproduced in a controlled environment where it will be possible to measure the stress perceived by the students and how this can impact over the activity that generates the stress.
  • Ethics - A campaign of data-acquisition over humans will be carried out. This introduces a number of difficulties that must be considered, from the first contact with the volunteers to the selection of the acquisition protocol and handling of sensible data.
  • Data acquisition and data science - We will apply non-linear multifactorial analysis to extract the statistical description of the interaction among the factors in study and to develop the first prototype of a dynamic model of stress, breathing and posture. As any data-scientist knows, it is fundamental to have good knowledge of the topic in order to perform meaningful analysis. Therefore, this part of the project will experience the biggest multidisciplinarity since the experts of all mentioned disciplines will need to work together. 
BCNMEDTECH will define the protocols, selecting the sensors for posture and breathing while TIDE will contribute to the cognitive evaluation of the students and the set up of collaborative learning tasks. The PI of the project has experience in ethics of science and management of sensible data, but will rely on the experience of TIDE for contacting the students and working with them. Finally, all the data-science related activity will be carried out by the two groups together.