Background

Randomized controlled trials have highlighted the importance of exercise training on the severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The primary objective of this meta-analysis was to analyze the data from these studies on the severity of OSA indices as measured by formal polysomnography. The secondary objective was to evaluate the effect of exercise on oxygen desaturation index, body mass index and several metabolic parameters associated with OSA.

Methods

Two independent reviewers and an experienced librarian searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, COCHRANE, and Scopus and SPORTDiscus databases from January 1, 2000, to October 21, 2021 to identify randomized controlled trials that evaluated the impact of exercise training on OSA severity. Pre-exercise and postexercise training data on the primary and secondary objectives were extracted.

Results

A total of 11 randomized controlled trials (533 study participants) were identified based on the inclusion criteria. The mean pre-exercise and postexercise reduction in apnea hypopnea index was −6.94 event per hour (95% confidence interval [CI]: −10.74 to −3.13, I2 = 84%). The mean changes in oxygen desaturation index and body mass index were −5.32 events per hour (95% CI: −9.65 to −0.99, I2 = 73%) and −1.21 kg·m−2 (95% CI: −1.80 to −0.62, I2 = 49%) respectively.

Conclusion

In adult patients with OSA, exercise training was associated with statistically significant reduction in OSA severity.

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