A sequence of breathing and relaxation exercises known as the Papworth method has been shown to reduce asthma symptoms by one third, the journal Thorax reported.

The study was conducted by a team using the St. George’s Respiratory Symptom Questionnaire and is considered the first evidence from a controlled trial to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Papworth method.

Use of the Papworth method was associated with less depression and anxiety, and symptoms from inappropriate breathing habits were also reduced. The technique improved the relaxed breathing rate, but there was no significant improvement in specific measures of lung function. The improvement in symptoms was still in evidence one year later.

“The fact that no significant change was observed in objective measures of lung function suggests that five treatments of the Papworth method do not improve the chronic underlying physiological causes of asthma, but rather their manifestation,” said the authors of the study.

The Papworth method of physical therapy is a series of integrated breathing and relaxation exercises developed in the 1960s. The breathing training involves a specific diaphragmatic breathing technique, emphasizing nose breathing and development of a breathing pattern to suit current activity.