Light Physical Activity Can Lower Sleep Apnea Risk, Study Says



To determine whether there was a connection between sleep quality and physical activity, researchers analyzed 155,448 adults who were 46-years-old on average—making this the largest study of its kind, to date. Pulling data from the Ontario Health study, researchers looked specifically at the lifestyle, medical, socio-demographic, and sleep patterns of each participant. 

According to the research, nearly 7% of participants had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Those who fell into that group were also more likely to lead more sedentary lifestyles than those without. 

When comparing the activity levels between the two groups, researchers determined that even minor increases in physical activity levels helped with the sleep disorder. In fact, just a 10% increase in movements, like walking, lowered the risks of developing sleep apnea. 

“Our results highlight the importance of physical activity as a preventive measure against developing sleep apnea,” senior author of the study Lyle Palmer, Ph.D., says in a news release. “One surprising finding was that not only vigorous physical activity but also just walking alone was associated with a decreased risk of sleep apnea.”

So how much exercise is needed to lower the risks? When it comes to walking, the researchers recommend adding at least 20 more minutes to your daily stroll. More intense activities only needed eight extra minutes to lower the risk of sleep apnea and improve overall sleep quality. 

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