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Breathing Exercises for Asthma

written by: K. A. Arbuckle • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 10/17/2010

Asthma breathing exercises are an effective way to complement traditional treatment plans. By learning to control their breathing through different techniques, asthmatics can reduce their medication needs and symptoms.

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    Asthma affects over 16 million adults and 7 million children in the United States. Most asthmatics take preventative as well as fast acting medication to treat their symptoms. Studies are showing that alternative and complementary methods can reduce medication needs and symptoms while enhancing asthma control. Asthma breathing exercises have been shown to be one of the effective methods for helping asthmatics gain control over their asthma symptoms by both preventing and treating them. The exercises, however, are not a substitute for medical treatment and should only be used as complementary in your asthma health care plan. As with any complementary methods, speak to your health care provider for advice.

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    Papworth Breathing Technique

    Research has shown the Papworth Method of breathing to successfully reduce asthma symptoms by one third, as reported on ScienceDaily. The Papworth breathing techniques originated in England in the 1960s. The method involves integrating diaphragm breathing techniques with relaxation. The Papworth Method can be learned through about 5 sessions. The method also focuses on breathing through the nose while controlling how fast and deep you breathe. Breathing exercises like those used in the Papworth Method can increase the control and flexibility of the muscles involved in respiration.

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    Buteyko Method

    The breathing method developed by Dr. Buteyko in the 1950s focuses on hyperventilation, or over breathing. According to Dr. Buteyko, taking in too much air reduces the oxygen supply in the blood. He theorizes that people breathe in five to 10 times more air than needed. The method is taught in classes, usually over four to five day periods. It is designed to be a lifestyle involving not only breathing exercises, but also dietary and health guidelines. The method can be utilized by children over the age of three and adults. Dr. Buteyko claims that the method can help with 150 common illnesses, including asthma.

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    Pranayama

    Practicing Pranayama Pranayama, a form of controlled breathing, is used in yoga. Different styles of pranayama can help with asthma. The yoga breathing exercises may also help reduce stress, which can increase asthma symptoms, according to the MayoClinic.com. Some techniques of pranayama include ujjayi, dirgha pranayama, and Nadi Shodhana. Each style has its own purpose. For example, dirgha pranayama helps with using the diaphragm properly, increases oxygen into he blood, and relaxes the body and mind. Asthma breathing exercises which incorporate pranayama can also include yoga for improved fitness levels.

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    References

    MayoClinic.com: Asthma Treatment: Do complementary or alternative approaches work?

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/asthma-treatment/AS00032

    CDC Fast Stats: Asthma

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/asthma.htm

    Buteyko Center USA

    http://www.buteykocenterusa.com/index.html

    ScienceDaily: Papworth Breathing Technique Cuts Asthma Symptoms by a Third

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070702145422.htm

    The Yoga Site: Introduction to Pranayama and Yogic Breathing

    http://www.yogasite.com/pranayama.htm

    Image from Wikimedia Commons by Jesús Bonilla "Tanumânasî"

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