Asthma Patients Breathe Easier with Yoga and Breathing Exercises

People with asthma have been cautious about exercise because it was thought to worsen their symptoms, however, recent studies have shown that Yoga and breathing control practices, in combination with aerobic training, are particularly key exercises for asthmatic people seeking to improve their lung function.

The study, which was released today in the Annals of Medicine journal, emphasizes the significance of using the right type of exercise training in asthma management strategies.

According to main author Shuangtao Xing, an Associate Professor at the School of Physical Education at Henan Normal University in China, the results show just how beneficial types of exercise training may be to improve lung function for adults.

“Breathing training combined with aerobic training, and yoga training, appear to be particularly advantageous — offering potential avenues for effective treatment approaches,” he states.

“Larger, well-designed randomized controlled trials are now needed to more accurately estimate the benefits of exercise training for individuals with asthma,” he added.

Exercise training can enhance respiratory function and exercise capacity in adult patients

Around 339 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, a chronic lung disease that manifests as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest.

Exercise was once thought to precipitate or exacerbate acute asthma attacks, making it a possible risk factor for those who have the condition. Recent research, however, has shown that exercise training can improve adult patients’ respiratory function and exercise capability. Comparing the efficacy of various rehabilitation programs, however, has proven to be difficult due to discrepancies in the precise exercise treatments in the RCTs that have already been conducted.

Effects of multiple types of exercise training on lung function in adults with asthma

The current study compares the effects of several types of exercise training on lung function in persons with asthma to solve this issue by simultaneously comparing data from multiple treatments in a single analysis using a network meta-analysis.

In total, 28 RCTs including 2,155 asthmatics were included in the study, which looked at how breathing exercises, aerobic exercises, relaxation exercises, yoga exercises, and breathing exercises mixed with aerobic exercises affected lung function.

Compared to the traditional rehabilitation control group, all five of the exercise therapies showed better success in improving lung function assessments.

Specifically, the study found:

  • Breathing training, aerobic training, relaxation training, yoga training, and breathing combined with aerobic training, led to improvements in the levels of Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second (FEV1) levels and Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF).
  • Aerobic training, breathing training, yoga training, and breathing combined with aerobic training, improved the level of Forced Vital Capacity (FVC).
  • Breathing training, aerobic training, and yoga training improved the FEV1/FVC ratio.

Yoga training had the most significant effect on improving Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) levels

In addition, the researchers used a statistical method to compare the results of various exercise therapies. Yoga training had the most significant impact on PEF levels, while breathing exercises and aerobic training had the most significant impact on FVC levels. Relaxation training had the greatest impact on FEV1 levels.

“These findings should provide valuable insight for healthcare professionals prescribing exercise training for the management of adult asthma patients. However, it is essential to consider individual factors, such as family history, duration of the condition, and environmental influences, when designing exercise rehabilitation programs. Tailoring interventions to individual physical and mental health conditions, with careful consideration of exercise intensity, frequency, and duration, is important for optimizing treatment outcomes,” says Xing.

The inherent diversity amongst the included studies and discrepancies in exercise intensity and frequency data are two limitations that the authors acknowledge may affect the further extrapolation of these results. Importantly, they note that because the majority of the study’s participants were under 60, exercise programs may have different effects on older people.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Taylor & Francis Group. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Shuangtao Xing, Shijie Feng, Dan Zeng. Effect of exercise intervention on lung function in asthmatic adults: a network meta-analysis. Annals of Medicine, 2023; 55 (2) DOI: 10.1080/07853890.2023.2237031

Page citation:

Taylor & Francis Group. “Exercise training and yoga can help improve lung function in adults with asthma.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 August 2023. <>.

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