Life / Health

Yoga could reduce asthma symptoms, study finds

Yoga has been known to have physical and mental health benefits, but research suggests that the practice may have health benefits for people with asthma.

Yoga can improve quality of life for people with asthma.

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Yoga can improve quality of life for people with asthma.

Researchers studying the effects of yoga on asthma have found that regular practice could improve quality of life and alleviate respiratory symptoms for people with the condition. However, ahead of World Asthma Day, May 3, health professionals stress the importance of continuing prescribed treatments to help sufferers maintain active social, professional and sporting lives.

Yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that's popular all over the world. Now, research from the Cochrane Review suggests that the practice may have health benefits for people with asthma.

Canadian researchers collated data from 15 clinical trials conducted in India, Europe and the USA, involving a total of 1,048 men and women. The majority of participants had been suffering from mild to moderate asthma for six months to 23 years. All participants continued their regular treatments throughout the course of the studies.

Six trials focused on the effects of yoga breathing alone, while the remainder looked at the effects of breathing, posture and meditation.

Once the studies were complete -- after periods ranging from two weeks to four years -- the researchers observed improved quality of life and reduced symptoms among asthmatic patients. However, they stress that the results don't provide conclusive proof that yoga has a genuine impact on lung function. Plus, given the variable nature of the data, it's too early to establish whether yoga could reduce medication use.

Indeed, specialists underline the importance of continuing any prescribed medications or treatments for asthma. Corticosteroid inhalers are often used to control the condition long-term.

However, since yoga can help people with asthma breathe more easily and generally feel better, patients should be able to make more informed choices about future treatment options.

Asthma is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation of the airways and lungs to varying degrees. Symptoms include breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing, and chest tightness.

The condition affects 300 million people worldwide.

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