A modified breathing exercise program for asthma is easy to perform and effective

J Asthma. 2017 Mar;54(2):217-222. doi: 10.1080/02770903.2016.1196368. Epub 2016 Jun 10.


Objectives: Breathing exercises are used by some asthmatic patients, yet are often difficult to perform and time-consuming. This study evaluated a simple, modified breathing exercise program regarding ease to perform and effectiveness as an adjunctive therapy.

Methods: Subjects age 18 to 65 with a current diagnosis of persistent asthma were enrolled. A program that incorporated three different breathing exercises (yoga pranayama techniques, diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing) was taught to subjects. The program was designed to be completed in less than 10 minutes per day. Subjects completed the Asthma Control Test (ACT) and mini-Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ) at baseline and at 1-month follow-up. They also completed a survey that asked them to rate the effectiveness and difficulty of the exercises, and whether they would recommend them in the future.

Results: A total of 74 subjects were enrolled in this study. The intervention improved breathing for 52.9% of the subjects, while 67.6% felt that their daily activity was improved and 66.1% noted that the exercises allowed decreased use of a rescue inhaler. Most subjects (80.9%) recommended breathing exercises as a complementary therapy for asthma and 79.4% of the subjects stated the exercises took less than 10 minutes per day total. Overall, ACT scores improved significantly (p = 0.002) with a statistically non-significant improvement in AQLQ scores.

Conclusion: A simple program of breathing exercises was found to be effective and could be completed in less than 10 minutes per day. Furthermore, there was a statistically significant improvement in ACT scores post-exercise.

Keywords: Asthma; alternative medicine; asthma control; breathing exercises; complementary medicine; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Breathing Exercises / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Quality of Life*


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents