Yoga Practice by COPD Patients Found to Be as Effective as Traditional Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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Results from a recent study published in the CHEST Journal showed that yoga is a cost-effective form of rehabilitation that is as effective as standard progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) programs for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to the study, yoga programs can be adopted as an integral part of long-term management of the disease. The study is entitled “Yoga Is as Effective as Standard Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Improving Dyspnea, Inflammatory Markers, and Quality of Life in Patients With COPD“, and the results will be presented at the CHEST 2015 Annual Meeting on Monday, October 26, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, Canada.

The study, which was conducted by a team of researchers from the Department of Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Disorders and All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, India, examined the effects of yoga as a type of pulmonary rehabilitation on body inflammation markers. A total of 60 patients with COPD were randomly allocated into two study groups: group 1, where patients were taught yoga exercises including asanas, pranayam, meditation, and relaxation technique, and group 2, where patients underwent a standard PMR program.

All study participants were examined for serum inflammation, lung function and shortness of breath (dyspnea). Each study group took part in a one-hour training, two times per week, for a period of four weeks, followed by a training every couple of weeks for a period of eight weeks. For the remaining weeks, the training was performed at home.

Results revealed that yoga and PMR exercises done in a structured manner result in similar improvements in pulmonary function, exercise capacity, 6-minute walk distance test, severity of dyspnea, quality of life, and indices of systemic inflammation (including levels of C-reactive protein) after 12 weeks of training.

“This study suggests yoga may be a cost-effective form of rehabilitation that is more convenient for patients,” said Mark J. Rosen, MD, Master FCCP, CHEST Medical Director in a news release. “The authors recommended adoption of yoga programs as an option as part of long-term management of COPD. These findings should be confirmed in new studies and the potential mechanisms explored.”

Approximately 12 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with COPD, although the number might be higher as many individuals are unaware they have the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Its prevalence increases with age, with men being more likely to be affected, although the death rate for men and women is roughly the same.