The Role of Aerobic Exercise in the Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

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man struggling to wake and get out of bed
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common condition involving an obstructed airway and impaired breathing. Frequent side effects include snoring, pauses in breathing during the night, and sleepiness during the day. There is also a significant increase in hypertension, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and coronary artery disease. The consequences can be huge, and life-threatening.

Many patients with OSA are treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP), with good results. But exercise has an important role to play in the management of this condition.
Aerobic exercise and its benefits on OSA have been examined through many studies, and the results are clear. Aerobic exercise can strengthen the upper airway dilator muscles, decrease the severity of OSA, lessen daytime sleepiness and improve sleep efficiency, and may keep the condition from worsening.

While CPAP therapy is considered to be the best choice of treatment for OSA, not all patients can tolerate it. Consistent and frequent aerobic exercise is an effective tool in the management of OSA, whether or not a CPAP machine is part of the solution.

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