Exercise and sleep-disordered breathing: an association independent of body habitus

Sleep. 2004 May 1;27(3):480-4. doi: 10.1093/sleep/27.3.480.


Study objectives: The degree to which physical exercise habits are related to sleep-disordered breathing is not known. We sought to investigate the association between a single-item exercise question and laboratory-assessed sleep-disordered breathing.

Design: A population-based cross-sectional epidemiologic study of adults measured the association between exercise and sleep-disordered breathing. Hours of weekly planned exercise were assessed by questionnaire. Sleep-disordered breathing was assessed by 18-channel in-laboratory polysomnography and characterized by the apnea-hypopnea index.

Setting: Polysomnography was conducted at the University of Wisconsin General Clinical Research Center sleep laboratory.

Patients and participants: Participants included 1104 men and women, aged 30 to 60 years, enrolled in the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study.

Measurements and results: Associations were modeled using linear and logistic regression, adjusting for body mass index, skinfold measurements, age, sex, and other covariates. Adjusted mean (95% confidence interval) apnea-hypopnea index was 5.3 (4.4, 6.2) events per hour for participants who exercised 0 hours per week; 3.9 (2.8, 5.0) events per hour for those with 1 to 2 hours of exercise; 3.2 (2.2, 4.2) events per hour for those with 3 to 6 hours of exercise; and 2.8 (1.0, 4.6) for those with > 7 hours of exercise (P trend < .001). Similarly, the odds of having moderate or worse sleep-disordered breathing (apnea-hypopnea index > 15 events per hour) significantly decreased with increasing level of exercise.

Conclusion: Independent of measures of body habitus, lack of exercise was associated with increased severity of sleep-disordered breathing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Apnea / diagnosis
  • Apnea / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography / instrumentation
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Regression Analysis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / therapy