Regular exercise is almost always a good thing and will generally help to improve your quality of life. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where sufferers’ airways become blocked while sleeping, causing you to intermittently stop breathing for short periods of time.
This disorder can be extremely dangerous if left untreated and must be taken seriously. For a long time, it has been asked as to whether exercise can actually help to reduce your sleep apnea risk or symptoms. So what is the answer?
The Link Between Exercise and Risk of Sleep Apnea
A 2020 study from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine looked at a group of over 155 000 adults and investigated the link between their activity levels and sleep apnea risk. Of the group, 6.9% reported that they had sleep apnea, and when researchers looked into their lifestyle they noticed that that group statistically spent more time sitting or being sedentary that the rest of the group.
Those that were more active, even just with a 20-minute daily walk, showed a much lower risk for sleep apnea. This research shows that staying active plays an important role in reducing your risk of developing sleep apnea – and that this activity does not even need to be vigorous activity to make a difference.
Improving Sleep Quality
The simplest argument for exercise – if you are at risk of developing sleep apnea or improving your symptoms – is that regular exercise is known to improve the quality of your sleep. Several studies have indicated that people who are regularly active rarely report sleep disruptions like insomnia or uneven sleep patterns, while those who rarely exercise are more likely to report frequent sleep problems. Therefore, making sure to stay active may make a difference in improving your quality of sleep in the long run.
Weight Loss and The Impact on Sleep Apnea
For some sufferers of sleep apnea, specifically, those who have OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), exercise’s ability to assist with weight loss can play a large role. There are several types, with different contributing factors, but OSA, in particular, can be caused in part by the weight of a person’s neck that restricts airflow. Therefore, exercise to lose weight and hopefully reduce the neck circumference can contribute to reducing symptoms.
It might not be a perfect solution, but exercise or gentle activity can play a role in improving the symptoms of sleep apnea or reduce your risk of developing it the future. You do not need to go overboard and plunge into vigorous exercise – as studies show, any kind of regular activity is enough to reduce your risk. Take time to find the fun in exercise and make it a part of your daily lifestyle, and help yourself to live a healthier life.
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