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More Activity, Less Sitting May Cut Risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Prospective cohort study shows more hours of physical activity, fewer hours sitting at work/away from home may lower risk for OSA

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MONDAY, Aug. 2, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The incidence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is negatively associated with physical activity and positively associated with sedentary hours, according to a study published online July 21 in the European Respiratory Journal.

Yue Liu, M.D., from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues prospectively followed 50,332 women from the Nurses' Health Study, 68,265 women from the Nurses' Health Study II, and 19,320 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study to examine the associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with OSA.

The researchers identified 8,733 incident OSA cases during 2,004,663 person-years of follow-up. Comparing participants with ≥36.0 versus <6.0 metabolic equivalents of task hours/week of physical activity resulted in a pooled hazard ratio for OSA of 0.46 after adjustment for potential confounders. The multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio was 1.78 for participants spending ≥28.0 versus <4.0 hours/week sitting watching television. For sitting hours at work/away from home, the comparable hazard ratio was 1.49. The associations with physical activity and sitting hours at work/away from home were attenuated but remained significant after additional adjustment for several metabolic factors, including body mass index and waist circumference, but the association with sitting hours watching television was no longer statistically significant.

"This large prospective cohort study highlights the potential role of maintaining an active lifestyle in reducing OSA incidence," the authors write. "Further investigations are warranted to replicate our findings and to elucidate the underlying biological mechanism for the observed associations."

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