By Jessica Downey published
When it comes to our health and wellbeing, the importance of sleep is widely acknowledged as a key component.
Exercise has also long been believed to be key in the body's ability to rest, and now a new study has found a direct link between how much exercise we take and a severe sleep disorder, namely obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops and starts during sleeping. The most common diagnosis of this disorder is called obstructive sleep apnea and is why you may see the condition being referred to as OSA.
The American Sleep Apnea Association states that, ‘Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the tongue collapses against the soft palate and the soft palate collapses against the back of the throat during sleep, and the airway is closed.’
The study published in the European Respiratory journal found that people who are regularly active had a reduced risk of developing OSA.
The researchers measured how much time the 138,000 participants spent doing recreational physical activities and how much time they spent sitting down and watching TV. The results revealed that participants with higher activity levels had 54% less chance of developing OSA.
Meanwhile, participants who sat and watched TV for more than four hours a day were at a 78% greater risk of developing the sleep disorder than those who were reportedly active.
However, it may not be simply the act of sitting down for prolonged periods that leads to the increased risk. Tianyi Huang, D.Sc, one of the lead authors and an assistant professor in the Division of Sleep at Harvard Medical School told Bicycling that sedentary work, such as sitting in an office by a screen all day, created less risk of developing sleep apnea.
He outlined why both the sedentary behaviours have contrasting impacts. According to Huang, watching TV has a stronger link to obesity than time spent working from a screen for a prolonged period.
He believes this could be down to the fact that TV watching creates habits such as snacking or drinking sugary beverages.
We should all enjoy relaxing activities like a Netflix binge and tasty snacks from time to time, but when it affects our sleep and poses potential threat to our health it may be helpful to explore activities to help keep you active.
Aerobic activities such as HIIT workouts are great if you need a quick fix of fast-paced exercise and can help with all over weight loss. But being active doesn’t have to come in the form of hardcore workouts. Many people prefer to take part in lower intensity physical activities such as walking to lose weight.
Sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo is also a strong believer in the benefits of exercise on people’s sleep quality.
She recommends exercise for people who suffer from fatigue as according to her it encourages the release of the awakening hormone, cortisol and the happiness hormones, serotonin and dopamine.
Arezzolo adds: “It also reduces that dreaded brain fog, which is a commonplace for those with sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.”
Jessica is Staff Writer at Fit&Well. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. She is a keen runner and is currently sweating her way through a 10k training plan. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen - which she loves sharing with others on her healthy living-inspired Instagram account, @jessrunshere. Despite her love for nutritious cooking, she stands by the saying ‘everything in moderation’ and is eagerly conquering the London food and drink scene!
Want to eat healthier in 2022? Here's how to stick to your food goals
Nutrition Skip the restrictive diets and make some small tweaks instead to make long-lasting changes
By James Frew • Published
Under Armour HOVR Apex 3 review: A versatile premium all-rounder
Review The Under Armour HOVR Apex 3 is a versatile workout shoe providing support and comfort no matter what you like to do
By Lee Bell • Published