Sleep Breath 2000; 4(4): 173-176
DOI: 10.1055/s-2000-12544
Copyright © 2000 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc., 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA. Tel.: +1(212) 584-4662

Physical Exercise as an Adjunct Therapy in Sleep Apnea-An Open Trial

Valentina Giebelhaus1 , Kingman P. Strohl2 , Werner Lormes3 , Manfred Lehmann3 , Nikolaus Netzer3
  • Preliminary data from this investigation and a part of the figures were previously published in German in Pneumologie 1997;51(Suppl 3):779-782
  • 1Pulmonary Division, Department of Medicine, University Hospitals Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • 2Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Disorders Research and Education Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
  • 3Department of Medicine, Division of Sportsmedicine, University Ulm, Germany
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
31 December 2000 (online)


Background: The aim of this study was to determine in an open trial if physical exercise in sleep apnea patients is safe and/or influences respiratory disturbance index (RDI).

Methods: After being treated 3 months or more with nasal CPAP for moderate to severe sleep apnea syndrome, eleven patients (1 female, 10 male, mean age 52.2 years) began a six-month period of supervised physical exercise twice a week, 2 hours each time. Before and after this period a Polysomnography without CPAP was recorded, along with a bicycle exercise test with lactate profile, echocardiography, body-weight, and body-height measurement.

Results: No adverse effects or cardiopulmonary problems were observed. There was no significant change in body weight with physical training; no significant difference in either min SaO2 nor mean SaO2; and no significant improvement in fitness. No adverse cardiopulmonary effects or problems were observed. There was a decrease of the RDI from 32.8 to 23.6 (p < 0.05), without a significant change in the REM-sleep portion of total sleep time (TST), NREM sleep, or TST.

Conclusions: A prescription for mild to moderate exercise is safe in the management of sleep apnea, and, even in the absence of a fitness improvement, there occurred a decrease in RDI without a change in sleep architecture.


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