Evidently Advent Day 16: best health evidence wrapped up for the festive season!

Out of puff?


Breathing exercises are used by adults with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). What evidence do we have that they work? This is what Cochrane reviews have found:

  • Asthma: while some trials reported positive effects of breathing exercises for adults with asthma, overall there was no conclusive evidence to show whether or not they are effective. The evidence was low quality
  • COPD: breathing exercises appeared safe for people with COPD. Yoga breathing, pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing improved the distance walked in six minutes by an average of 35 to 50 metres in four studies. Effects of breathing exercises on shortness of breath and well being were variable. When added to whole body exercise training, breathing exercises did not appear to have any additional benefit. The evidence was low quality

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Freitas DA, Holloway E, Bruno SS, Chaves GSS, Fregonezi GAF, Mendonça KMPP. Breathing exercises for adults with asthma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD001277. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001277.pub3 – See more at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD001277/AIRWAYS_breathing-exercises-for-asthma#sthash.pAJTQqT1.dpuf

Holland AE, Hill CJ, Jones AY, McDonald CF. Breathing exercises for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD008250. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008250.pub2 – See more at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD008250/AIRWAYS_breathing-exercises-for-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease#sthash.frY5Ylpy.dpuf


Sarah Chapman

About Sarah Chapman

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Sarah's work as a Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, including Evidently Cochrane blogs, blogshots and the ‘Evidence for Everyday’ series for nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and patients. A former registered general nurse, Sarah has a particular interest making evidence accessible and useful to practitioners and to others making decisions about health. Before joining Cochrane, Sarah also worked on systematic reviews for the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Nursing Institute, and obtained degrees in History from the University of Oxford and in the history of women’s health and illness in early modern England (MPhil., University of Reading).

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