Quite often, we don’t consider our diaphragm, intercostals and other breathing muscles. Our lungs have been doing their job since we were born and we rarely consider them when training. Certain populations, such as those with COPD require specialized training in breathing and retraining of the musculature around the muscles but generally people in most healthy populations do not consider this form of training for themselves. Edwards et al 2012 completed a RCT on overweight and obese adults with no other diagnosed health condition. 8 adults were given a class on inspiratory breathing and walking while 7 were given no instruction. The 6 min walk test distance was used to determine the effect.
The experimental group improved distance covered by 62.5+/- 37.7m, P<0.01 while the placebo group did not improve their distance covered.
This raises the possibility that simple breathing exercises with walking can be a source of great benefit for the healthy but immobile population. These exercises are not difficult to learn and can be practiced daily while doing almost any other activity yet they clearly have a measurable benefit upon gait speed and walking endurance.
More research is needed but this is exciting.