«RESULTS: The sample included 907 nonexercisers and 488 exercisers (mean age, 49 ± 14 years; mean AHI, 53 ± 20 events/h; 81% men). Nonexercisers and exercisers differed significantly in terms of obesity (72% vs. 54%), the mean proportion of sleep in non-rapid eye movement stage 3 sleep (9 ± 8% vs. 11 ± 6%), and tiredness (78% vs. 68%). Nonexercisers had a higher symptom frequency/scores and poorer sleep quality. Adjustment for exercise weakened the associations between individual symptoms and the AHI, indicating that exercise has a mitigating effect. In binary logistic models, exercise was associated with approximately 30% lower adjusted questionnaire1 score > 2, tiredness; poor-quality sleep, unrefreshing sleep, and negative mood on awakening. Although the odds of an Epworth Sleepiness Scale score > 10 were lower in exercisers, that association did not withstand adjustment for confounders.
CONCLUSIONS: Exercise is associated with lower frequency/intensity of symptoms in patients with severe OSA. Because up to one third of patients with severe OSA might exercise regularly and therefore be mildly symptomatic, it is important not to rule out a diagnosis of OSA in such patients.»