A Comparison of the Effects of Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises and Yoga Pranayama Techniques on Pulmonary Function in Individuals with Exercise Induced Asthma
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Context: Exercise induced asthma (EIA) has known detrimental effects on both pulmonary function and human performance. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises, a nonpharmacological protocol intended to improve pulmonary function, have been identified as an adjunct treatment for persons with EIA. Yoga and subsequent breathing techniques have also been suggested to increase quality of life in individuals with asthma. Objective: To compare the effects of a diaphragmatic breathing exercise (DBE) program to those obtained from yoga pranayama techniques (YOGA) on pulmonary function and the incidence of EIA episodes among individuals with EIA. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Controlled laboratory setting. Participants or Other Patients: 22 physically active persons with EIA (17 women, 5 men); age range = 18 to 35 yrs. (mean age, 20.6 ± 1.7) were randomly assigned to 3 groups: diaphragmatic breathing exercises (DBE) (n = 6); yoga pranayama techniques (YOGA) (n = 8); and control (CONTROL) (n = 8). Intervention(s): Participants assigned to 1 of the 2 treatment groups performed either the DBE or YOGA protocol 4 times per week for 4 weeks. Participants randomized to the CONTROL group maintained their normal daily routines during the 4-week study period. Main Outcome Measure(s): Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second (FEV1), Forced Vital Capacity (FVC), Forced Expiratory Flow at 25 and 75% (FEF 25 – 75), Peak expiratory flow (PEF), SF-36, and Asthma Quality of Life Questionnaire (AQLQ). Results: Statistically significant improvements were found with all domains of the AQLQ scores in all groups between Week 0 and Week 4 (Total: p = 0.002, Symptoms: p = 0.006, Activity Limitations: p = 0.001, Emotional Function: p = 0.001, Environmental Stimuli: p = 0.001). No other statistically significant differences were found for any other outcome measures (p > 0.05). Conclusion: The 4-week intervention protocols did not provide any statistically significant improvements among the participants with EIA in terms of pulmonary function; however, there was a clinically relevant change in quality of life as measured by the AQLQ. Given a longer treatment period, it is possible there can be a positive effect on health related quality of life, and perhaps pulmonary function.