Exercise and Diet Can Help Sleep Apnea From Worsening

Sleep apnea — a condition that causes shallow or obstructive breathing patterns — is an unpleasant disorder that often goes hand in hand with diabetes and cardiovascular-related problems. But new research suggests that getting adequate exercise while also cleaning up your diet could keep sleep apnea from getting worse.

At the Oivauni Sleep Clinic in Kuopio, Finland, Dr. Henri Tuomilehto and his colleagues found that obese individuals who went through a one-year diet and lifestyle intervention program were half as likely to have sleep apnea worsen and progress to more severe disease than people who did not participate in the program.

"Once you get some symptoms - even not that dramatic symptoms - then you should take the symptoms seriously because in the early phases of the disease if you change your lifestyle habits, you can cure the disease and prevent the progression of the disease," Tuomilehto said.


Researchers randomly assigned 81 obese adults with mild sleep apnea to one of two programs: an intervention program that included a low-calorie meal plan with diet and exercise counseling or a program that included just a few general diets and exercise information sessions.

Four years later, researchers followed up with 57 participants, finding that people in the intervention group had more success keeping weight off. On average, they were 12 pounds lighter than they were five years earlier. Participants in the other group, however, were about one pound heavier.

No participants in the intervention group saw their sleep apnea worsen to severe disease, and only six saw it develop to moderate disease. Twelve participants in the other group, however, had their sleep apnea worsen to moderate or severe status.


"If you've lost some weight, four years later, even if you've regained some, there's still some significant benefit in terms of your apnea," Gary Foster, head of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, said in an article on Fox News.

Source: JAMA Internal Medicine
Photo: Pixabay


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