Exercise & OSA
A common medical condition that Dr. Klein provides treatment for at Michigan Head & Neck Institute is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). For those who are not familiar with OSA, it is classified as upper airway obstruction during sleep. While there are many ways to treat OSA, this Blog is going to focus on apnea exercises as a means of treatment.
There are countless reasons why exercise is beneficial to the human body. It decreases depression, cardiovascular risk, diabetes, hypertension, daytime impairment, metabolic disorders and chronic pain. It allows for a more natural REM sleep cycle so you are able to get good quality sleep. Some people think that just because they sleep 8 hours, they are fully rested. If your body is waking up repeatedly throughout the night due to airway obstruction, then you are not truly resting. But, are there exercises for snoring and sleep apnea?
Increased exercise has been shown to be effective in improving the severity of a person’s OSA. Additionally, the health issues associated with OSA are decreased. Most people who suffer from OSA are overweight, however some are not, so exercise alone cannot eliminate OSA. Exercise can reduce OSA indirectly with the decrease of fat and body weight. It can improve muscle tone and has the potential to improve nerve damage that has occurred as a result of years of OSA.
Obesity or being overweight is one of the primary risk factors of OSA. People who are overweight have extra tissue in the back of their throat. This extra tissue has the ability to block the airflow because it falls down over the airway, or it could even change the shape of the airway, increasing the likelihood that it will collapse during sleep. It can be extremely challenging for a lot of people diagnosed with OSA to lose weight. Losing just 10% of your body weight can have a huge impact on symptoms. In some cases, losing a significant amount of weight can even cure the condition.
Exercise can reduce a person’s AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index), which is calculated by taking the number of apnea events divided by the hours of sleep. A person diagnosed with Severe OSA could start an exercise regimen and go down to a Mild diagnosis over time. You have probably heard of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale before. This is a test that allows you to rate your level of daytime sleepiness. Exercise has shown to be effective in lowering the total score one receives. To take the test, please click on the following link to see how you score.
While higher levels of physical activity mean lower risk for OSA and associated health disorders, lower levels of physical activity are still helpful. Currently, the World Health Organization recommends at least “600 metabolic equivalent minutes (MET minutes)” of physical activity each week. This is equivalent to 150 minutes/week of brisk walking OR 75 minutes/week of running. High levels of activity are considered at 3,000-4,000 MET minutes per week. People who achieve these high levels of activity significantly reduce their risk for disease in general.
If you are someone who is suffering from OSA and experiences daytime sleepiness, fatigue, or pain, there are other forms of exercise that are less aggressive but can still be helpful. Activities as simple as vacuuming, climbing the stairs, gardening or mopping the floor can be beneficial and is certainly better than no exercise at all.
For more information on OSA please contact Dr. Klein at (586) 573-0438.
Schwartz AR, Gold AR, Schubert N, Stryzak A, Wise RA, Per-mutt S, et al. Effect of weight loss on upper airway collapsibility in obstructive sleep apnea. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1991;144(3 Pt 1):494–498.
Primary Source Respiratory Medicine Source Reference: Aiello KD, et al “Effect of exercise training on sleep apnea: a systematic review and meta-analysis” Respir Med 2016. DOI: 10.1016/j.rmed.2016.05.015.
SLEEP VOLUME 34, ISSUE 12
The Effect of Exercise Training on Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Sleep Quality: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Journal Scan / Research · August 23, 2016
High Level of Activity Reduces Risk of Major Disease
BMJ : British Medical Journal