Breathing exercises benefit asthmatics: study

Breathing exercises might help control asthma, results of a study hint. In the study, adults with asthma who received breathing training showed improvement in their health and psychological well-being and suffered fewer symptoms.

Dr. M. Thomas, of the University of Aberdeen, UK, and colleagues conducted a randomized study in which 183 asthma patients with impaired health status received either three sessions of physiotherapist-supervised breathing training or nurse-delivered education. Those who learned the breathing exercises were asked to practice them for at least 10 minutes a day.

At 1 month, similar improvements on an asthma-specific quality of life questionnaire were observed in both groups.

At 6 months, however, significant “between-group” differences were evident. Patients in the breathing training group were less anxious and depressed, had fewer asthma-related symptoms, and scored better on lung function tests.

The breathing exercises, however, did not produce any significant changes in airway inflammation or airway “twitchiness.”

“This study,” the investigators say, “suggests that breathing exercises may potentially have a role in patients with suboptimally controlled mild to moderate asthma, but the use of such techniques must occur with patient education on the ongoing need for anti-inflammatory pharmacotherapy.”

SOURCE: Thorax, December 2008.

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