Art, Music, DanceBreathingCOPDWalking

Music helps breathing in people with COPD

Get out your MP3 player if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

As the researchers from the University of Hamburg state in their ivory tower way, “Auditory distraction might… serve as an intervention for the reduction of dyspnea [difficulty breathing] during exercise in this patient group.”

First, the details.

  • 20 patients with mild-to-severe COPD took part in 2, 6-minute walk tests.
  • During one test they were outfitted with MP3 players and headphones that played no music.
  • During the other test, they listened to “upbeat” classical or pop music as they walked.

And, the results.

  • A similar exercise level was achieved with both tests as measured by distances walked and measures of lung and heart function.
  • Patients reported that adding music made it less difficult to walk, as reported in significantly lower Borg scores (0=no difficulty breathing to 10=maximum difficulty).
  • The results of other measures were also significant in favor of including music during walking.

The bottom line.
In the Reuters news release, Dr. Andreas von Leupoldt concludes, “In addition to physiological treatments, psychological interventions can help alleviate the burden of dyspnea in these patients.”

The results are important because difficulty breathing is the most important symptom limiting exercise in people with COPD. It can cause them to avoid physical activity — leading to muscle deconditioning and further difficulty breathing.

12/30/07 19:36 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.