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Respiratory Training Could Help Breathlessness After COVID-19

0 2 years ago

A small handheld breathing exercise device, usually used by athletes, helped to reduce breathlessness and improved physical fitness of people recovering from COVID-19, according to research presented at a meeting of the Physiological Society on February 22-23, focussing on long COVID mechanisms, risk factors, and recovery.

Persistent breathlessness is a common post-COVID complaint, and the device offers the potential for a low cost, home-based rehabilitation programme to increase respiratory muscle strength and speed recovery.

The study involved 148 participants recruited through social media and included a few discharged hospital patients. They were randomised into intervention and control groups, and those in the intervention group were each given one of the handheld devices and instructed to breathe into it as deeply as possible for about 20 minutes 3 times a week over 8 weeks.

Compared with the control group, those who undertook the breathing exercises had a 33% reduction in breathlessness, twice the level considered clinically meaningful. In addition, estimated fitness increased by approximately 10% and respiratory strength increased by approximately 36%. The health improvements over the study period were 2-14 times greater for the intervention group compared with the control group. Participants reported feeling less breathless, stronger, fitter, and more able to move around easily, similar to their pre-COVID levels.


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