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Breathwork improves mental health, a new study shows. People who practiced breathwork reported less anxiety, depression, and mental stress, regardless of how frequently they engaged in the practice.

Researchers reviewed the findings of 12 randomized controlled trials that investigated the effects of breathwork on stress. The breathwork techniques were presented in person, remotely, or via both.

They found that slow-breathing exercises improved participants' mental health, regardless of how the techniques were presented. Participants who practiced breathwork reported having less anxiety, depression, and mental stress, compared to those who did not practice breathwork. Surprisingly, the researchers didn’t identify a dose-response effect with breathwork, aligning with other findings in which just a single breathwork session reduced anxiety.

Breathwork is an umbrella term that refers to various breathing exercises and techniques. Evidence suggests that breathwork improves heart rate variability and promotes resilience to stress. People often engage in breathwork as part of general relaxation practices, yoga, or meditation. Learn more about the benefits of meditation in this audio episode featuring Dr. Rhonda Patrick.

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