High Levels of Sedentary Behavior Associated with an Increased Risk of OSA

Tired stressed old mature business woman suffering from fibromyalgia neckpain working in office sitting at table. Overworked senior middle aged lady massaging neck feeling hurt pain from sedentary jobFor those suffering from sleep apnea, being sedentary for too long during the day may be contributing to the condition. A new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the relationship between the risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and active lifestyles and found a link between the two.

OSA is a type of sleep apnea that affects the muscles during sleep. An airflow blockage can occur as some muscles relax. Severe cases of OSA can result in heart issues, including heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms.


The study, published in European Respiratory Journal, followed approximately 130,000 men and women in the United States over a follow-up period of 10 to 18 years. Using the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII), and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS), statistical modeling was analyzed to compare physical activity and sedentary hours with diagnoses of OSA.

Moderate and vigorous physical activity was examined separately, and both had a strong correlation with a lowered risk of obstructive sleep apnea. There were no significant differences in the intensity of the workout.

It was found that higher levels of physical activity and lower levels of sedentary behavior were associated with a lower risk of OSA. It was also noted that stronger associations were found for women, adults over the age of 65, and those with a greater BMI of 25 kg/m2.

Prior Observational Studies

“Most prior observational studies on the associations of physical activity and sedentary behavior with OSA were cross-sectional, with incomplete exposure assessment and inadequate control for confounding,” said Tianyi Huang, an Associate Epidemiologist at Brigham. “This is the first prospective study that simultaneously evaluates physical activity and sedentary behavior in relation to OSA risk.”


This study also has a much larger sample size compared to previous research and was able to offer a detailed assessment of physical activity and sedentary behaviors. The researchers of this study were able to take various associated factors into account, making the findings more credible.

However, the authors do note that all collected data, both of OSA diagnosis and physical activity or sedentary behavior, were self-reported. OSA is also often difficult to detect and can remain clinically unrecognized.

Despite these study limitations, this research provides enough insight into the relationship between OSA and a sedentary lifestyle. Researchers believe that the next step would be to collect data using actigraphy, home sleep apnea tests, and polysomnography, rather than self-reports.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.