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Getting off the sofa cuts sleep apnea risk

felix gussone

Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD, written by Health Guide Team

Last updated: Jul 30, 2021
1 min read


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which your breathing briefly stops and restarts during sleep. Each episode of paused breathing lasts 10 seconds or longer, and it occurs when your throat muscles relax, obstructing (blocking) your airway. This blockage can reduce the flow of oxygen to your brain and the rest of your body, possibly leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.

In the new study, people who spent less than four hours per day sitting and watching TV and instead followed the current World Health Organization (WHO) exercise guidelines of at least 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week, had a substantially lower OSA risk. Compared to the most active people in the new study, those who spent more than four hours a day sitting watching TV had a 78% higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea. 

Besides physical activity, other lifestyle changes can make a big impact on the prevention and treatment of sleep apnea, including losing weight, limiting alcohol, and improving sleep hygiene.


  1. Liu, Y., Yang, L., Stampfer, M. J., Redline, S., Tworoger, S. S., & Huang, T. (2021). Physical activity, sedentary behavior, and incidence of obstructive sleep apnea in three prospective US cohorts. The European respiratory journal, 2100606. Advance online publication. Doi: 10.1183/13993003.00606-202. Retrieved from: