Does Exercise Improve Sleep Apnea?

Yes, exercise can improve sleep apnea.

Exercise is a great way to prevent and reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea. Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight which can reduce the chances of developing sleep apnea or managing it if you already have it. Getting up and moving around will not only make you feel better and look better, but it can help ease your breathing as well. Physical activities like walking, jogging, aerobics or swimming are all excellent ways to get your body moving and stay active.

Additionally, there are specific oral exercises that have shown improvement in relieving symptoms of sleep apnea. These involve strengthening your throat muscles, tongue and soft palate, which are all areas affected by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

In this article, we will explore the connection between exercise and sleep apnea. We will examine the evidence that suggests exercise can improve sleep apnea symptoms and discuss both physical and oral types of exercise that may be most beneficial. If you suffer from sleep apnea or know someone who does, read on to learn how exercise may be able to help.

How does exercise help sleep apnea?

Physical exercise can be an effective way to manage and improve OSA. Those who are overweight or obese are particularly at risk for developing sleep apnea, as the excess weight in their neck can block off the airway and force air through a tightly restricted space. Similarly, excess weight around the middle of the body can restrict lung volume and capacity, further contributing to reduced airflow during sleep. For these people, exercise can be a critical tool in reducing their risk of developing this sleep disorder.

Daily exercise tailored to fit your individual needs should be part of any treatment plan developed. This generally includes aerobic activity such as brisk walking or moderate jogging as well as strength training exercises like lifting weights. Exercise helps burn calories and can help you lose weight to reduce your risk of sleep apnea and cardiovascular disease. By only losing 5-10 lbs, you can possibly make drastic improvements of over 50% in OSA symptoms.

Studies have also shown that using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy can also help people lose weight while exercising daily.  Then, after losing 10-15% of their body weight, some patients were able to come off CPAP treatment entirely.

Additionally, physical exercise can also increase your breathing rate and make it easier for you to draw breath during sleep. Regular physical activity has also been linked with improved overall health, nourishing both body and mind to help relax before bedtime and promote better sleep quality. This can ease some of the symptoms associated with OSA, like fatigue and daytime drowsiness that often follow inadequate restful sleep.

Can lack of exercise cause sleep apnea?

Yes, lack of physical exercise could possibly lead to sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be genetically related. Therefore, can you prevent it? Exercise is a powerful tool in the battle against sleep apnea. There’s no denying that leading an active lifestyle with regular exercise can help prevent sleep apnea and ease its symptoms. Even something as simple as taking regular breaks to get on your feet and stretch can increase physical activity throughout the day.

Studies have shown that people who are less active throughout their life, particularly those who watch more than four hours of TV per day (78% higher risk), or have sedentary jobs (49% higher risk), are at a greater risk for developing sleep apnea. On the other hand, those who incorporate more physical activity into their daily routine can reduce their risk for this dangerous disorder.

Research has also found that individuals diagnosed with OSA symptoms saw significant improvement when they adopted a consistent exercise regimen with moderate intensity workouts alongside lifestyle changes such as balanced diets and weight management practices.

Exercise should always be paired with good sleep hygiene habits to ensure maximum benefit towards managing sleep apnea symptoms (e.g., turning off/unplugging screens two hours before bedtime). It’s no secret that reducing stress levels, improving quality of life, and becoming physically fit can all improve chances of successful treatment for those living with OSA and exercise is one sure-fire way of achieving this.

Do sleep apnea exercises work?

Yes, oral exercises for sleep apnea can also help sleep apnea symptoms.

Maintaining weight through regular aerobic exercise is key in managing and reducing snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. However, additional tongue and throat exercises can help pinpoint the cause of these conditions for better management. These sleep apnea exercises work because they can improve airway function. By strengthening and toning muscles, adjusting tongue position, and encouraging nasal breathing during sleep, OSA symptoms can be reduced.

Myofunctional therapy, also known as oropharyngeal exercise, has been proven to reduce the severity of sleep apnea through improved postures and targeted stimulation of certain areas of the face, neck, and mouth by up to 50% in adults. This approach focuses on aligning the tongue to ensure that it does not fall into a rest position that can further block airflow while sleeping.

Putting these exercises into practice may lead to improved overall health by reducing obstruction while sleeping. There are several types of exercises that target these areas such as breathing exercises through the nose instead of the mouth and toning muscle tissue with specific movements.

It is recommended that those suffering from sleep apnea speak to a respiratory therapist about finding tailored techniques for their individual needs. With guidance from professionals, throat exercises for sleep apnea can provide relief from associated issues like fatigue, dry mouth, and headaches caused by lack of restful sleep.

Which exercise is best for sleep apnea?

Both physical and oral exercises are beneficial in improving obstructive sleep apnea. Depending on your age, risk factors, and current health state, it is difficult to say which one is best. Though, if able, physical exercises would generally be more important than oral exercises in reducing sleep apnea symptoms in most patients.

As long as you are being active in some way (running, walking, weight training, not sitting to long every day) and watching your weight and diet, you can possibly reduce symptoms of OSA with weight loss and may even be able to get rid of it.

Though, speaking specifically about oral exercises, tongue exercises seem to be the best.

As mentioned earlier, research has suggested that specific tongue exercises can help reduce the severity of sleep apnea by targeting certain areas of the face, neck and mouth. These exercises focus on strengthening airway muscles and retraining the tongue to allow for proper breathing. This approach, known as myofunctional therapy or oropharyngeal exercise, is said to reduce the symptoms of OSA in adults by up to 50%.

Can exercise make sleep apnea worse?

In short, no. There is not any research that suggests that exercise can make sleep apnea worse. Just like with anything else, exercise generally can only improve or help and is usually always suggested. The only circumstance where exercise could potentially hurt you is if your family doctor has told you that you suffer from a condition where exercise would not be a good idea due to risks.

For example, strenuous exercise would not be recommended if you suffered from both sleep apnea and congestive heart failure. Though, even with heart failure, light exercise is good!  As mentioned earlier in this article, exercise can only improve sleep apnea.

Though, there is a study where exercise proved to be a little more difficult for people with sleep apnea. The study showed that people with sleep apnea have a 14% lower oxygen uptake compared to those who do not. This could potentially make it more difficult to start exercising, and for longer periods, until symptoms were reduced from doing the exercises. This is only one study and more research is needed.


In final, research has suggested that exercise and lifestyle changes can play a significant role in the treatment of sleep apnea. Exercise should always be paired with good sleep hygiene habits to ensure maximum benefit towards managing sleep apnea symptoms.

Additionally, specific oral exercises have been found to reduce the severity of OSA as well. Therefore, it is important for individuals suffering from sleep apnea to speak to a medical professional about finding tailored techniques for their individual needs.

Can sleep apnea cause low libido?