Attention, Asthma Sufferers: Getting Bendy Could Help

A Cochrane Review suggests that yoga may have a beneficial effect on symptoms and quality of life in people with asthma.

AsianScientist (May 4, 2016) – A Cochrane Review by researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) suggests that yoga may have a beneficial effect on symptoms and quality of life in people with asthma. However, effects on lung function and medication use are uncertain. The article was published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Asthma is a common chronic disease affecting about 300 million people worldwide. The typical symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Yoga has gained global popularity as a form of exercise with general lifestyle benefits, and recent studies have investigated the potential for yoga to relieve asthma-related problems.

The review summarizes the results of randomized trials and has found evidence that practicing yoga might be able to improve asthma quality of life and symptoms to some extent. However, researchers also warned that higher-quality studies with more participants would be needed to draw any firm conclusions about the effects of yoga.

The researchers wanted to find out the effects of yoga in people with asthma. They found 15 randomized controlled trials which involved almost 1,050 men and women. Most of the trials were conducted in India, followed by Europe and the United States. The majority of participants had mild to moderate asthma for six months to more than 23 years. Six studies looked into the effects of breathing alone during yoga exercises, whilst the other studies assessed the effects of yoga that included breathing, posture and meditation.

Most people continued to take their usual asthma medication while participating in the studies. The studies were conducted over a time period of two weeks to over four years.

The researchers found some moderate quality evidence from five studies that yoga exercise reduces the impact of asthma on people’s quality of life. However, evidence about yoga’s impact on the participants’ lung function is more uncertain because the results varied. The effects of yoga on medication use and any side-effects of yoga are also uncertain, because only a few very small studies reported these outcomes.

Lead author, Dr. Yang Zuyao from the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at CUHK commented, “Our findings suggest that yoga exercise may lead to small improvements in asthma quality of life and symptoms. However, it is unclear whether yoga has a consistent impact on lung function and we don’t yet know if yoga can reduce people’s medication usage, or if there are any side effects of yoga for people with asthma.”

Deputy co-ordinating editor of the Cochrane Airways Group, Rebecca Normansell, added, “At present, we just don’t have enough high quality evidence to determine the effects of yoga as a type of exercise for helping people manage their asthma.”

“Because there is uncertainty about the effects of yoga on lung function and use of asthma medication, it’s important that people with asthma continue to take their medication, as prescribed. The findings of this Cochrane Review will help people make more informed choices about their future treatment options.”

The article can be found at: Yang et al. (2016) Yoga for Asthma.


Source: Wiley; Photo: Ramnath Bhat/Flickr/CC.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Asian Scientist Magazine is an award-winning science and technology magazine that highlights R&D news stories from Asia to a global audience. The magazine is published by Singapore-headquartered Wildtype Media Group.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist