August 21, 2023

2 min read

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Key takeaways:

  • Breathing training plus aerobic training improved FEV1 and FVC in adults with asthma.
  • Participating in yoga helped improve several measures of lung function.

Among adults with asthma, several exercises, such as yoga and breathing training plus aerobic training, improved measures of lung function, according to results published in Annals of Medicine.

Shuangtao Xing

“Network meta-analysis was able to find not only that different exercise interventions improved FEV1, FVC, peak expiratory flow (PEF), and FEV1/FVC, but also the best way to improve different indicators,” Shuangtao Xing, MEd, associate professor at the School of Physical Education at Henan Normal University in China, told Healio. “Our results found that the best way to intervene for different metrics was not consistent. Overall, breathing training plus aerobic training and yoga training may be more advantageous in improving lung function in adult asthmatics.”

Group of people doing yoga

Among adults with asthma, several exercises, such as yoga and breathing training plus aerobic training, improved measures of lung function, according to results published in Annals of Medicine. Image: Adobe Stock

After searching through four databases from inception to February 2023, Xing and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 28 randomized controlled trials (18 in Chinese; 10 in English) that studied the relationship between lung function and exercise in a total of 2,155 adults with asthma to determine what types of exercise are more beneficial for this patient population.

“Network meta-analysis allows for the integration of multiple relevant exercise interventions, providing stronger evidence to assess the efficacy of different exercise interventions, helping to inform clinical practice and develop treatment guidelines and decisions for clinicians,” Xing told Healio.

Researchers assessed five types of exercise: breathing training, aerobic training, relaxation training, yoga training and breathing plus aerobic training.

Most of the studies had a low risk for bias, but researchers noted two from the total cohort with a high risk because of missing data.

Improvement in lung function was evident with each of the different types of exercise but did vary according to the measure of pulmonary function.

When assessing FEV1 (22 studies) and PEF (17 studies), all five exercises contributed to improvements compared with the control group receiving conventional rehabilitation. Specifically, researchers found that relaxation training had the highest efficacy in improving FEV1 (standardized mean difference [SMD], 1.13; 95% CI, 0.83-1.43) among adults with asthma, whereas yoga training had the highest efficacy for PEF (SMD, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.55-1.02).

Additionally, researchers saw improvements in FEV1/FVC (10 studies) with breathing training, aerobic training and yoga training, which along with breathing plus aerobic training, also improved FVC (17 studies) among adults with asthma. Notably, breathing training contributed the most to FEV1/FEV improvement (SMD, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.52-1.03), whereas the combination of breathing and aerobic training contributed the most to FVC improvement (SMD, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.47-0.95).

“Future research should aim for objective, standardized and well-designed experimental studies focusing on various aspects such as exercise mode, intensity, frequency, age and gender,” Xing told Healio. “Large-scale, diversified, double-blind randomized controlled trials are needed to further validate and expand upon the findings of this study.”


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