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Exercise training and yoga improves lung function for asthmatics

[Aug. 11, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]

A groundbreaking study underlines the significant impact of yoga, aerobic, and breathing control exercises in enhancing lung functionality. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)

A groundbreaking study, recently published in the esteemed journal Annals of Medicine, underlines the significant impact of yoga, aerobic, and breathing control exercises in enhancing lung functionality, especially for individuals with asthma. This research sets a significant milestone in understanding the synergy between exercise and asthma management, changing the conventional thought on the subject.

Asthma is a chronic lung ailment that affects a staggering 339 million people across the globe. Its symptoms range from coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath to chest tightness, significantly impacting the quality of life for those afflicted.


Historically, exercise was once viewed as a potential exacerbator for asthma attacks. The belief was that it could possibly instigate or even intensify acute asthma symptoms. However, a paradigm shift has occurred with newer studies revealing that exercise training can actually play a crucial role in augmenting respiratory function and overall exercise capacity in adult patients.

Lead author Shuangtao Xing, an Associate Professor at the School of Physical Education at Henan Normal University in China, emphasizes the study's key findings: “Breathing training combined with aerobic training, and yoga training, appear to be particularly advantageous – offering potential avenues for effective treatment approaches.”


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Although these revelations are promising, Xing also suggests the need for larger, more comprehensive randomized controlled trials. He said, “Larger, well-designed randomized controlled trials are now needed to more accurately estimate the benefits of exercise training for individuals with asthma.”

The current study made use of a network meta-analysis, a method that enables simultaneous comparison of results from various treatments in a single holistic analysis. This technique was employed to weigh the efficacy of several exercise regimes on the lung function of adults with asthma. The analysis reviewed 28 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comprising 2,155 asthma patients.


The treatments examined in these RCTs were:

  • Breathing training

  • Aerobic training

  • Relaxation training

  • Yoga training

  • A combination of breathing and aerobic training

Graphical summary of the risk of bias in the included studies. (CREDIT: European Respiratory Journal)

In an encouraging revelation, all five exercise methods exhibited enhanced efficacy in advancing lung function measurements compared to the conventional rehabilitation control group. Specifically, improvements were noted in the metrics of Forced Expiratory Volume in the first second (FEV1) levels and Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF). Moreover, notable enhancements were observed in the level of Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) and the FEV1/FVC ratio from specific exercises.


To further elucidate on the most effective treatments, researchers applied a statistical technique to rank them. Relaxation training led in improving FEV1 levels, breathing combined with aerobic exercise demonstrated paramount effect on FVC levels, and yoga training stood out in elevating PEF levels.

Forest plot of the meta-analysis of the effect of exercise training on asthma control. SMD: standard mean difference; IV: inverse variance. (CREDIT: European Respiratory Journal)

Professor Xing highlights the importance of these findings for healthcare professionals. “These findings should provide valuable insight for healthcare professionals prescribing exercise training for the management of adult asthma patients,” he says. But he also emphasizes the importance of personalized treatment. "Tailoring interventions to individual physical and mental health conditions, with careful consideration of exercise intensity, frequency, and duration, is important for optimizing treatment outcomes."


However, as with all scientific studies, certain constraints exist. The authors concede potential limitations that could sway the universal application of these results. Notably, variations in exercise intensity, frequency across studies, and the fact that a significant number of participants were under 60 suggests that results might differ for older individuals.

Forest plot of the meta-analysis of the effect of exercise training on lung function. SMD: standard mean difference; IV: inverse variance. (CREDIT: European Respiratory Journal)

This study signifies a landmark moment in understanding the nuanced relationship between exercise and asthma management. While further research is essential, healthcare professionals have a new arsenal of knowledge when prescribing exercise regimes for asthma patients.


As research in this domain continues, individuals with asthma can remain hopeful for even more refined and effective treatment approaches in the future.

For more science news stories check out our New Innovations section at The Brighter Side of News.


Note: Materials provided above by The Brighter Side of News. Content may be edited for style and length.


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