Women who suffer from hot flashes may find relief in a daily practice of deep-breathing exercises.
Mayo Clinic researchers in Rochester, Minnesota, conducted a study to assess the effectiveness of two different-paced breathing programs and a usual- breathing practice on the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing is considered beneficial because of its effect on the autonomic nervous system and because it can lead to relaxation. Sixty-eight women completed the 9-week randomized controlled clinical trial. Subjects participated in one of two deep-breathing groups (six breaths per minute for 15 minutes once a day or twice a day) or in the control group, which practiced usual breathing at 14 breaths per minute for 10 minutes a day. Subjects in all groups experienced symptom reduction.
Symptoms improved for 52% of the women in the twice-daily deep-breathing group; 42% of those in the once-daily deep-breathing group; and 46% of the usual-breathing group members. Study authors concluded that once-daily deep-breathing exercises are likely to be the most practical for widespread use, even though twice-daily exercises were more effective. More research is warranted.
The study is available in Menopause (2013; 20 (2), 179–84; doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31826934b6).