Breathing lessons may lessen asthma symptoms

THE QUESTION Might breathing exercises help control the symptoms of asthma?

THIS STUDY randomly assigned 183 adults with mild to moderate asthma to participate in three half-hour sessions to learn better breathing techniques and exercises aimed at reducing the severity of symptoms, or to attend three half-hour educational sessions on asthma. Those who learned breathing exercises were asked to practice them 10 minutes or more a day. Six months later, both groups showed improvements, but the exercise group reported a higher quality of life and less anxiety or depression and scored better on lung function tests. No real difference between the groups was found in their use of inhalers.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? People with mild to moderate asthma.

CAVEATS The study did not describe the exercises in detail. Part of the reported improvement among study participants was based on their answers on questionnaires.

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The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult a physician.

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