- Harvard Medical School experts monitored the health of 138,000 people
- After 10–18 years, 8,733 subjects had developed obstructive sleep apnea
- This blocks the airway at night, often leading to snoring
- They found that exercise reduced the risk of developing sleep apnea.
One study found that sitting in front of the TV for more than four hours a day increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea—and results in snoring.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School monitored the health and physical activity levels of nearly 138,000 people for 10–18 years.
They found that increased levels of sedentary behavior — and low levels of physical activity — increased the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
People who sit all day, such as in office jobs, should compensate by exercising more during their free time, the researchers recommended.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which one’s airway becomes completely blocked during the night, disrupting normal breathing and causing snoring and disrupting sleep.
If untreated, it can increase the risk of cancer, glaucoma, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cognitive and behavioral disorders.
Experts have estimated that, globally, approximately 1 billion adults aged 30–69 are affected by mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea.
One study found that spending more than four hours a day in front of the TV increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea—and resulting snoring (pictured)—by 78 percent, one study found.
“We saw a clear association between physical activity levels, sedentary behavior and OSA risk,” said paper author and epidemiologist Tianyi Huang of Harvard Medical School.
‘Those who followed current World Health Organization physical activity guidelines, got at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week and spent less than four hours per day watching TV, had a significantly lower risk of OSA. ‘
‘Importantly, we observed that any additional increase in physical activity, and/or a reduction in sedentary hours may have benefits that outweigh the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea.’
‘The difference in OSA risk between sedentary work and time spent watching TV may be explained by other behaviors related to those activities.’
‘For example, they are more likely to drink and drink sugary drinks along with watching TV than while sitting at work or anywhere else, such as sitting while traveling.’
‘This can lead to excess weight gain, which we know as a risk factor for OSA.’
In their study, Professor Huang and colleagues monitored the health of more than 138,000 American adults between 10–18 years.
While none had obstructive sleep apnea at the start of the investigation, 8,733 participants had been diagnosed with the condition by the end of the study period.
After accounting for potential confounding factors – including age, body mass index and alcohol/tobacco use – the team found that participants who engaged in more physical activity had a significantly lower risk of developing OSA. was.
Specifically, those who did the equivalent of running three hours per week were 54 percent less likely to develop the disorder than those who only got the exercise equivalent of running two hours a week.
In addition, people who spent more than four hours a day watching TV had a 78 percent higher risk of OSA than the most active subjects, while those whose work involved sitting and working had a 49 percent higher risk. it happens.
The researchers caution that the current study relies on self-reported health data – and that future work will benefit from collecting data through wearable health-monitoring technologies.
“Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and widespread disorder that can have a serious impact on people’s quality of life,” said Anita Simonds, president of the European Respiratory Society.
‘Although OSA can be managed with modern treatments, only a few studies focus on prevention,’ said a respiratory and sleep medicine specialist at the Royal Brompton Hospital.
‘Health professionals should prioritize prevention and support those at risk of developing OSA to become more active before it is too late.’
‘This study adds to the evidence on the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle to prevent lung disease, and it is encouraging that even a small increase in physical activity or a reduction in sedentary hours can yield potential benefits.’
‘So this is an important message to deliver to our patients and their families in primary care and respiratory clinics.’
The full findings of the study were published in European Respiratory Journal.
obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the walls of a person’s throat relax and narrow during sleep, blocking their airway.
It disrupts normal breathing, with symptoms including loud snoring, noisy and labored breathing, and repeated episodes when breathing is interrupted by gasping and snoring.
OSA affects between four and 10 percent of people in the UK. In the US, approximately 22 million are affected.
During an episode, the lack of oxygen causes the victim’s brain to be pulled out of deep sleep, thereby re-opening their airway.
These repeated interruptions in sleep make a person very tired, often leaving them unaware of what the problem is.
Risks of OSA include:
- being overweight – excess body fat increases the bulk of the soft tissues in the neck
- to be male
- being 40 or over
- having a big neck
- drinking too much alcohol
- Menopause – hormonal changes that relax sore muscles
Treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, if necessary, and abstaining from alcohol.
In addition, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices prevent airway…