Exercise has been shown to help sleep apnea and brain health 2022

sleep apnea

New research suggests exercising may assist with the symptoms of narcolepsy and enhance brain function.

According to the findings, persons with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea may benefit from additional exercise training as a therapy alternative. If you have this disorder, you’re more likely to get heart disease and stroke because of your snoring and breathing disruptions. Patients with sleep apnea are usually treated with CPAP machines, which use air pressure from a mask to keep the airway open while they sleep.

“Exercise training looks to be an attractive and adjunctive (add-on) non-pharmacological treatment,” stated lead researcher Linda Massako Ueno-Pardi, an assistant professor at the School of Arts, Science and Humanities at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. Also, she works with the Heart Institute and the Institute of Psychiatry at the university’s School of Medicine as a research collaborator.

About 9 percent to 38 percent of adults in the United States are estimated to have obstructive sleep apnea, however many of these cases remain misdiagnosed. As people get older, their chances of contracting this disease increase.

Many people with heart disease suffer sleep apnea. The American Heart Association made an official scientific statement on the subject in June.

If you’re overweight or obese, it’s more likely that you’ll have trouble breathing when you’re lying down. Cigarette smoking, family history, nasal congestion, back sleeping, alcohol use, having a larger neck or narrower throat, and other hormonal irregularities can all contribute to the illness. Type 2 diabetes, for example, increases a person’s chance of sleep apnea because of the illness.

Sleep apnea patients have a lower brain glucose metabolism, or the brain’s capacity to upload and correctly use glucose, the brain’s primary fuel source. This may impede one’s ability to think clearly.. Ueno-Pardi and her colleagues wanted to see if getting more exercise could assist with that.

The current research builds on the findings of a small study published in the journal Brain Plasticity in 2019 that found increased aerobic activity enhanced brain glucose metabolism and executive function in older, middle-aged persons at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

The current study included 47 Brazilian individuals with varying degrees of obstructive sleep apnea, ranging from mild to severe. 50% participated in six-month workout program that included three 60-minute sessions under supervision. About half of the people didn’t know anything about it either. Five minutes of warm-up, 25-40 minutes of stationary cycling, 10 minutes of muscular strengthening, and five minutes of cool-down were all part of the supervised exercise program.

Exercise capacity, brain glucose metabolism, and cognitive function, such as attention and executive function (the ability to organize and carry out activities), were assessed in both groups using a battery of tests administered to participants in both conditions. As a result, they assessed the severity of symptoms such as breathing disturbances and drops in blood oxygen levels (hypoxia), which have been linked to problems with attention and executive function in people with obstructive sleep apnea.

People in the exercise group had better sleep apnea symptoms and higher cognitive performance after six months, including a 32% improvement in attention and executive function. Except for a decrease in brain glucose metabolism, those who did not exercise showed no alterations.

Prior publication in a peer-reviewed journal is required for the findings, which will be presented at the AHA’s Hypertension Scientific Sessions virtual conference next week.

It’s a compelling argument for including exercise in sleep apnea treatment, according to Michael Grandner, the program’s director and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in Tucson. Neither he nor anyone else was a part of the research team.

Exercise appears to help brain health in adults with sleep difficulties, according to the study’s author, who called the findings “significant.”

Currently, most of our treatments involve forcing air down people’s throats, which is amazing and effective. Even so, it’s not the sharpest tool in the toolbox, is it? One approach that may add value and even be therapeutic is regular exercise training.. This is particularly critical in the case of a condition for which the current gold standard treatment does not provide cures for all patients.

Obesity is the leading cause of obstructive sleep apnea, and CPAP equipment do nothing to alleviate this problem.. For persons who have trouble breathing at night, Grandner believes that exercise training may help reduce excess fat surrounding the airways.

That’s what Ueno-Pardi found in her research, and she believes it happened. While she and her team did not track weight loss or muscle tone, they did track percentage of body fat and observed a “substantial reduction” in the exercise group. Through weight loss, exercise may have lessened the severity of sleep apnea for those who suffer from it.

Many studies have shown that losing weight can help treat sleep apnea, and Grandner agrees that it is an effective method.

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