Researchers in the UK have found that breathing exercises can help people with asthma to manage their symptoms.
The study, published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, was funded by the National Institute for Health Research in the UK. It involved 655 people with asthma who reported that their symptoms affected their quality of life.
Participants were split randomly into three different groups. The first group was given a DVD and booklet for a programme of breathing exercises to be completed at home, and the second group was offered three appointments with a physiotherapist who taught them the breathing exercises. The final group were not given any breathing exercises, and were asked to take their asthma medication as usual.
The researchers tracked the effects of the different treatment options by asking participants to regularly fill in surveys about their quality of life over a 1-year period. While the breathing exercises did not ‘cure’ asthma, the people who did the breathing exercises reported that they felt better with their asthma, compared to those who did not do breathing exercises. This improvement in wellbeing was comparable to what could be achieved from an increase in medication.
The study also showed similar results between the people who were taught breathing exercises in person and the people who had the DVD – showing that the cheaper option could be just as effective.
In partnership with Asthma UK, the researchers have since made the different videos and information from the DVD and booklet available for free online.
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