Sleep apnea syndrome affects a large proportion of the population, especially among the elderly. Regular physical activity, even brisk walking, can significantly reduce the risk.

An Australian team (University of Adelaide) analyzed data on some 155,000 adults (as many men as women), aged on average in their 50s. The participants answered a questionnaire on lifestyle, medical history, socio-demographic positioning, as well as quality of sleep. In this group, the rate of sleep apnea syndrome (confirmed by a medical diagnosis) was 7%. Sleep apneas are certainly not trivial, with potentially severe cognitive, vascular and respiratory effects.

Analysis of responses shows that regular physical activity, from walking at a moderate pace to vigorous exercise, is consistently associated with a lower risk of developing apnea syndrome. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle (frequent sitting position + low physical activity) significantly increases the risk.

As the researchers put it simply: “Our results highlight the importance of physical activity as a preventive measure against sleep apnea.”

Angie Mahecha

An fitness addict passionate of all things nature and animals, Angie often volunteers her time to NGOs and governmental organizations alike working with animals in general and endangered species in particular. She covers stories on wildlife and the environment for the Scientific Origin.