Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. It can reduce your risk of heart disease, support mental and emotional wellness, offer opportunities for socialization, and more. It can even help you sleep better! In fact, research suggests that a regular routine of physical activity can do much to reduce symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.
Weight and Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, often referred to as simply OSA, is a serious health condition that occurs when tissues in the throat block the upper airway. This causes repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night.
Excess fatty tissue, particularly when it is around the neck, is a big risk factor for OSA. The fat can place pressure on the airway, making it narrower and restricting the amount of oxygen that can flow through it. Therefore, moderate weight loss is often recommended for obese individuals who suffer from OSA.
Exercise can be a valuable part of a balanced weight loss program. Physical activity can burn calories, support a healthy metabolism, encourage muscle growth, and more. When exercise is combined with a well-designed eating plan, it may allow you to slim down and start getting better sleep.
Also, do not think that you have to lose a huge amount of weight to reduce your OSA symptoms. For many people, even a 10% reduction in body mass can provide major benefits.
What if Losing Weight Is Difficult for You?
Genetics, certain health conditions, and other factors can make it extremely difficult for some people to lose weight. If that is true of you, do not get discouraged — and do not give up on exercise! Exercise by itself, without any changes in body weight, is still hugely beneficial both for overall health and sleep quality.
In fact, a systematic review of available data found that “exercise can reduce the severity of OSA with no changes in BMI.” You do not have to stick to a rigorous training schedule to enjoy health benefits. In fact, you may notice significant improvements in your sleep if you engage in cardiovascular exercise for 30 – 40 minutes 4 – 5 times each week and combine that with light strength training 2 – 3 times each week.
Myofunctional Exercises Can Help, Too
Beyond regular forms of physical activity, there is a specific category of exercises that are often beneficial for OSA patients. Myofunctional movements target the muscles that have a direct impact on the airway. Things like singing, tongue exercises, and playing a woodwind instrument may all improve your airway health and reduce OSA symptoms.
Exercise can play a huge role in helping you to sleep better, but it may work best in combination with professional OSA treatment. Dr. Jeff Rodgers, an experienced sleep dentist in the Atlanta area, is ready to consult with you and formulate a plan that will allow you to get the rejuvenating rest you deserve. Get in touch with our team today at 770-394-4310.