According to a recent study, exercise alone can make a significant positive impact on sleep apnea. Currently, behavioral therapy for sleep apnea approaches stress exercise along with diet and other behavioral changes as part of a combination therapy for treating obstructive sleep apnea.
The study showed that when patients began an exercise program that combined brisk walking with weight training, they cut their sleep apnea by 25%. They were assessed using a polysomnography. Study participants went from 32 apneic events per hour to 25 apneic events.
The population used for the study were 43 sedentary adults. Researchers noted that the increase in exercise and decline in sleep apnea events occurred without any corresponding weight loss, and that, typically, a 10% weight loss (e.g. 20 pounds in a 200-pound individual) would be necessary to achieve the same results.
The study showed that people who are suffering from sleep apnea can see positive benefit simply from starting an exercise program, independent of weight loss. However, researchers noted that people should not see a moderate exercise program as an alternative to other forms of sleep apnea treatment, such as CPAP or oral appliance therapy. Instead, people should talk to their doctors about an appropriate level of exercise at the same time they discuss their sleep apnea.
If you are suffering from sleep apnea and would like to learn more about your treatment alternatives, please contact a local sleep dentist today.