Effects of exercise and weight loss in older adults with obstructive sleep apnea

Devon A. Dobrosielski, Susheel Patil, Alan R. Schwartz, Karen Bandeen-Roche, Kerry J. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose: Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is prevalent among older individuals and is linked to increased cardiovascular disease morbidity. This study examined the change in OSA severity after exercise training and dietary-induced weight loss in older adults and the association of the changes in OSA severity, body composition, and aerobic capacity with arterial distensibility. Methods: Obese adults (n = 25) with OSA, age 60 yr or older, were instructed to participate in supervised exercise (3 d·wk-1) and follow a calorie-restricted diet. Baseline assessments of OSA parameters, body weight and composition, aerobic capacity, and arterial distensibility were repeated at 12 wk. Results: Nineteen participants completed the intervention. At 12 wk, there were reductions in body weight (-9%) and percentage of total body fat (-5%) and trunk fat (-8%) whereas aerobic capacity improved by 20% (all P < 0.01). The apnea-hypopnea index decreased by 10 events per hour (P < 0.01) and nocturnal SaO2 (mean SaO2) improved from 94.9% at baseline to 95.2% after intervention (P = 0.01). Arterial distensibility for the group was not different from that at baseline (P = 0.99), yet individual changes in distensibility were associated with the change in nocturnal desaturations (r = -0.49, P = 0.03) but not with the change in body weight, apnea-hypopnea index, or aerobic capacity. Conclusions: The severity of OSA was reduced after an exercise and weight loss program among older adults, suggesting that this lifestyle approach may be an effective first-line nonsurgical and nonpharmacological treatment for older patients with OSA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Apnea-Hypopnea index
  • Arterial distensibility
  • Mean SaO
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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