Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 149–157 | Cite as

Association of physical activity with sleep-disordered breathing

  • Stuart F. QuanEmail author
  • George T. O’Connor
  • Jason S. Quan
  • Susan Redline
  • Helaine E. Resnick
  • Eyal Shahar
  • David Siscovick
  • Duane L. Sherrill
Original Article


This study was performed to determine whether there is a protective association between participation in vigorous or vigorous/moderately vigorous physical activity and the prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). Polysomnographic and questionnaire data from the baseline examination of 4,275 participants in the Sleep Heart Health Study (SHHS) were analyzed in relation to information on amount of physical activity and other potentially relevant factors collected from five SHHS parent cohorts (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, Cardiovascular Health Study, Framingham Heart Study, Strong Heart Study, and Tucson Epidemiologic Study of Airways Obstructive Diseases). Logistic regression models were fitted to determine if amount and strenuousness of physical activity was associated with the presence of SDB. At least 3 h per week of vigorous physical activity reduced the odds of SDB, defined as a respiratory disturbance index (RDI) of at least 15 apneas/hypopneas per hour (Adjusted OR, 0.68; 95%CI, 0.51–0.91). A qualitatively similar but slightly weaker association was observed when SDB was defined as a RDI ≥ 10 per hour (Adjusted OR, 0.81; 95%CI, 0.64–1.02). These findings remained after adjustment for sleepiness and restricting analyses to participants with good health. Three or more hours of moderately vigorous or vigorous physical activity also appeared to confer some protection against SDB, but these associations were weaker. Gender- and obesity-stratified analyses suggested that the protective association between physical activity and SDB occurred primarily in men and those who were obese. A program of regular vigorous physical activity of at least 3 h per week may be a useful adjunctive treatment modality for SDB, but this association needs confirmation with a prospective clinical trial.


Sleep-disordered breathing Sleep apnea Exercise Physical activity 



This work was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute cooperative agreements U01HL53940 (University of Washington), U01HL53941 (Boston University), U01HL53938 (University of Arizona), U01HL53916 (University of California, Davis), U01HL53934 (University of Minnesota), U01HL53931 (New York University), U01HL53937 and U01HL64360 (Johns Hopkins University), U01HL63463 (Case Western Reserve University), and U01HL63429 (Missouri Breaks Research).

SHHS acknowledges the ARIC, the CHS, the FHS, the Cornell/Mt. Sinai Worksite and Hypertension Studies, the SHS, the TESOAD, and the Tucson Health and Environment Study for allowing their cohort members to be part of the SHHS and for permitting data acquired by them to be used in the study. SHHS is particularly grateful to the members of these cohorts who agreed to participate in SHHS as well. SHHS further recognizes all of the investigators and staff who have contributed to its success. A list of SHHS investigators, staff, and their participating institutions is available on the SHHS website,

The opinions expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Indian Health Service.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart F. Quan
    • 1
    Email author
  • George T. O’Connor
    • 2
  • Jason S. Quan
    • 3
  • Susan Redline
    • 4
  • Helaine E. Resnick
    • 5
  • Eyal Shahar
    • 6
  • David Siscovick
    • 7
    • 8
  • Duane L. Sherrill
    • 1
  1. 1.Arizona Respiratory CenterUniversity of Arizona Health Sciences CenterTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Pulmonary CenterBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Athletics DepartmentNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA
  4. 4.Division of Clinical EpidemiologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyMedStar Research InstituteHyattsvilleUSA
  6. 6.Division of EpidemiologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  7. 7.Department of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  8. 8.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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