Comprehensive directed breathing retraining improves exertional dyspnea for men with spirometry within normal limits

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2010 Feb;89(2):90-8. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0b013e3181bc0cf4.


Objective: To compare the effects of comprehensive directed breathing retraining with traditional diaphragmatic breathing on male smokers with exertional dyspnea but normal spirometry.

Design: This is a prospective randomized clinical trial in an exercise laboratory at a university hospital. Twenty-four nonmedicated exertional dyspnea subjects were randomly assigned to experimental (comprehensive directed breathing) and control (traditional diaphragmatic breathing) groups. Forty-four physiologic parameters associated with exertional dyspnea were studied before and after interventions for both groups at rest and at 40-W constant exercise for 10 mins. The interventions for both groups included diaphragmatic breathing exercises, walking, and arm exercises for 90 mins, 5 days/wk for 4 wks. In addition, the comprehensive directed breathing group was taught the anatomy and physiology of ventilation; they observed their ventilatory dyssynchrony in a mirror; they were shown their ventilatory rhythm on a spirogram; diaphragmatic movement was demonstrated in an educational movie; and verbal feedback was used to correct respiratory asynchrony.

Results: We compared the relative changes of lung function parameters before and after intervention for each group. The comprehensive directed breathing group improvements were significantly greater (P < 0.05) than those of traditional diaphragmatic breathing for 34 of 44 lung function parameters.

Conclusions: Comprehensive directed breathing training improved exertional dyspnea, Dyspnea Index, and some clinical and functional parameters significantly more than traditional diaphragmatic breathing training.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breathing Exercises*
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Spirometry