To evaluate the efficacy of a 12-week exercise training program for reducing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity and improving sleep quality, and to explore possible mechanisms by which exercise may reduce OSA severity.
Randomized controlled trial.
Clinical exercise physiology center, sleep laboratory.
Forty-three sedentary and overweight/obese adults aged 18-55 years with at least moderate-severity untreated OSA (screening apnea-hypopnea index [AHI] ≥ 15).
Participants randomized to exercise training (n = 27) met 4 times/week for 12 weeks and performed 150 min/week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, followed by resistance training twice/week. Participants randomized to a stretching control (n = 16) met twice weekly for 12 weeks to perform low-intensity exercises designed to increase whole-body flexibility.
Measurements and Results:
OSA severity was assessed with one night of laboratory polysomnography (PSG) before and following the 12-week intervention. Measures of sleep quality included PSG, actigraphy (7-10 days), and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Compared with stretching, exercise resulted in a significant AHI reduction (exercise: 32.2 ± 5.6 to 24.6 ± 4.4, stretching: 24.4 ± 5.6 to 28.9 ± 6.4; P < 0.01) as well as significant changes in oxygen desaturation index (ODI; P = 0.03) and stage N3 sleep (P = 0.03). Reductions in AHI and ODI were achieved without a significant decrease in body weight. Improvements in actigraphic sleep and subjective sleep quality were also noted following exercise compared with stretching.
Exercise training had moderate treatment efficacy for the reduction of AHI in sedentary overweight/obese adults, which suggests that exercise may be beneficial for the management of OSA beyond simply facilitating weight loss.
Kline CE; Crowley EP; Ewing GB; Burch JB; Blair SN; Durstine JL; Davis JM; Youngstedt SD. The effect of exercise training on obstructive sleep apnea and sleep quality:a randomized controlled trial. SLEEP 2011;34(12):1631-1640.