Yoga, one of the most popular forms of exercise, was once believed to be a great treatment for asthma, but a new study proves otherwise. The study, conducted by the Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, shows yoga does little to ease asthma symptoms.

The study was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, and was led by Holger Cramer, director of yoga research. Cramer and his team analyzed previous studies involving 824 adults, which tested the effectiveness of yoga for asthma sufferers. They searched for proof that yoga improved lung functioning and helped to control asthma symptoms. The results revealed that the benefits of yoga for lung functioning were very small. There were some improvements with forms of yoga that emphasize breathing, but for the most part, it was no more effective than standard breathing exercises. The results were based on the patients' frequency of asthma attacks and use of their medication.

“Many asthma sufferers look to complementary therapies, such as yoga, to help relieve their symptoms,” said Dr. Michael Foggs, president of the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, in a press release. “If yoga helps them to feel better and breathe better, patients should by all means practice it. At the same time, we don’t advise that yoga be recommended to asthma sufferers as a treatment.”

The researchers said that people with asthma who currently participate in yoga don’t have to stop but shouldn’t depend on the exercise alone to improve their breathing. "Yoga can't be considered a routine intervention for patients with asthma at this time," Cramer said in the release. "But it can be considered an alternative to breathing exercises for asthma patients interested in complementary interventions.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 25 million people have asthma. It's one of the most common long-term diseases in children, causing chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness. It is also the third leading cause for children's hospitalizations.

Despite the scary statistics, there are ways to control asthma that might be more successful than yoga. Awareness is key. If you know you are experiencing asthmatic symptoms, then immediately get the proper medical care. Dust, mold, and smoke are common triggers for asthma attacks, so asthma sufferers should pay attention to the environments they're in. Treatment for asthma varies from inhalers to pills. Doctors also recommend that all patients develop their own personalized treatment plans.

Souce: Cramer H, Posadzski P, Dobos G, Langhorst J. Yoga for asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Annals of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. 2014.