Written by Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor, The Telegraph

The ancient art of Tai Chi can help asthma sufferers to control their condition, researchers have found.

A small study carried out in Thailand has found that the series of slow controlled movements and focused breathing can ease the symptoms of moderate to severe asthma.

There are 5.4m people in the UK with asthma, including 1.1m children and most have to take some form of medication to prevent wheezing and shortness of breath and other drugs if they suffer an attack.

The condition cannot be cured and around 1200 people die annually.

Seventeen asthma patients in Thailand had weekly Tai Chi lessons with daily ‘homework’ sessions.

After six weeks the team took a series of measures to establish exercise endurance, breathing capacity, asthma control, and quality of life scores and compared them to the measures taken before the programme.

The findings were positive in almost all categories and there were no ill effects.

The results of the study were presented at the American College of Chest Physicians conference in America.

Dr Elaine Vickers, Research Relations Manager at Asthma UK said: “Although this study is small it adds to the evidence that some people with asthma may benefit from various types of breathing exercises.

“Many people with asthma are interested in exploring non-drug methods of reducing their asthma symptoms and a number of different studies have shown that breathing exercises can help to reduce the need for reliever medication and can improve people with asthma’s quality of life.

“It is vital however that people with asthma continue to take their medicines as prescribed alongside any breathing training or exercises.”

Key words; tai chi, asthma, breathing exercises