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Hand-held respiratory training device improves physical activity in obese people

Obese people too breathless to become physically active could benefit from daily breathing exercises using a hand-held respiratory device, suggest researchers.
obesity

Obese people too breathless to become physically active could benefit from daily breathing exercises using a hand-held respiratory device, suggest researchers from the UK and Australia.

They studied 67 men and women, split into two groups, with an average body mass index (BMI) of 36. After being timed walking for 6 minutes, each participant was given a hand-held respiratory training device.

Those in the training group had the device set on the maximum setting, while the rest acted as a placebo group with the device on a lower setting. All participants were instructed to carry out 30 deep breaths into the device twice a day.

After 4 weeks, they were timed walking again for 6 minutes. The researchers found that the placebo group

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Obese people too breathless to become physically active could benefit from daily breathing exercises using a hand-held respiratory device, suggest researchers from the UK and Australia. 


This is the first study to assess the benefits of the device for obese 
people who experience breathlessness. Picture: Alamy

They studied 67 men and women, split into two groups, with an average body mass index (BMI) of 36. After being timed walking for 6 minutes, each participant was given a hand-held respiratory training device. 

Those in the training group had the device set on the maximum setting, while the rest acted as a placebo group with the device on a lower setting. All participants were instructed to carry out 30 deep breaths into the device twice a day. 

After 4 weeks, they were timed walking again for 6 minutes. The researchers found that the placebo group saw little change in the distance they covered over 6 minutes, but the training group achieved an average increase of 60 metres. 

Popular with athletes who want to improve their performance, this is the first study to assess the benefits of the device for obese people who experiences breathlessness. It works by strengthening the intercostal muscles between the ribs, the neck muscles, and aiding the action of the diaphragm.

Lead study author professor Andrew Edwards, of Plymouth’s University of St Mark and St John, said: ‘These simple exercises could alleviate symptoms that often prove a significant barrier to participating in exercise. I hope health professionals will see the potential for this approach to be part of the support and advice available to help people get on the road to losing weight.’ 


Edwards A et al (2016) Efficacy of inspiratory muscle training as a practical and minimally intrusive technique to aid functional fitness among adults with obesity. Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology. 234, 85-88.

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