Send to

Choose Destination
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2005 Feb;94(2):247-50.

Spontaneous sigh rates during sedentary activity: watching television vs reading.

Author information

Asthma and Allergic Diseases Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22908, USA.



Spontaneous sighs are thought to play an important role in preventing atelectasis and in regulating airway tone. Recent studies have provided a mechanism by which expansion of the lungs could cause relaxation of smooth muscle.


To investigate breathing patterns during 2 forms of sedentary behavior: reading and watching television.


Breathing patterns were monitored for 1 to 2 hours to document respiratory rates and sigh rates. Each participant was monitored while reading and while watching a movie on videotape. During the first experiment (17 controls), metabolic rates were also measured. In the second experiment (18 controls and 9 patients with mild-to-moderate asthma), only breathing patterns were monitored.


There were no significant differences in respiratory or metabolic rates between the 2 activities. In contrast, in the first experiment, 13 of 17 controls had lower sigh rates while watching a videotape than while reading (P < .01). In the second experiment, the sigh rate was significantly lower overall while watching a videotape (mean, 13.7 sighs per hour; range, 1.8-26.0 sighs per hour) than while reading (mean, 19.3 sighs per hour; range, 7.7-30.0 sighs per hour) (P < .001). A similar decrease was observed in patients with asthma (P < .01).


Given that many children and adults watch television for 5 or more hours per day, breathing patterns during this time may be relevant to lung function. Our results demonstrate that prolonged periods of watching a videotape are associated with lower sigh rates than while reading. Further research is needed to determine whether these changes are relevant to increased bronchial reactivity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center