Deb Bailey AFPA, MAT, CanFitPro, YMCA


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common condition involving an obstructed airway and impaired breathing. Frequent side effects include snoring, pauses in breathing during the night, and sleepiness during the day. There is also a significant increase in hypertension, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and coronary artery disease. The consequences can be huge, and life-threatening.

Many patients with OSA are treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine (CPAP), with good results. But exercise has an important role to play in the management of this condition.

Aerobic exercise and its benefits on OSA have been examined through many studies, and the results are clear. Aerobic exercise can strengthen the upper airway dilator muscles, decrease the severity of OSA, lessen daytime sleepiness and improve sleep efficiency, and may keep the condition from worsening.

While CPAP therapy is considered to be the best choice of treatment for OSA, not all patients can tolerate it. Consistent and frequent aerobic exercise is an effective tool in the management of OSA, whether or not a CPAP machine is part of the solution

Lower back pain, or LBP, is an extremely common problem. It has a  wide variety of causes, and may come on suddenly, or gradually. The pain can stem from muscles, joints, or discs. It may be as a result of sudden trauma, or be a repetitive motion injury.

 It may seem trivial to say that someone has LBP, but this common complaint can cause loss of work, a spike in use of health care services, depression, family strain, and lack of self-esteem. Imagine being in pain all the time - it's very draining.

 By itself, LBP doesn't affect how your body responds to exercise - you can reach your cardio goals, strength markers, and agility and flexibility needs. However, the constant presence of LBP might elevate the level of pain experienced, and you may give up short of your goals because of the increased pain.

 Usually most episodes of LBP don't need any specific treatment, but sufferers are advised to modify activities, and to include icing, OTC analgesics, and daily flexibility work - stretching. If you need to stop activity for a while, keep it as short a time as possible, as inactivity can be as negative a factor as the cause of the flare-up itself.

 If you have chronic LBP - more than three months - consult a physician to rule out or confirm any injury and discuss pain management. Next, consult a qualified post-rehab trainer for exercises that will strengthen you without causing more distress and pain.

 Ideally, your program will include abdominal strengthening, such as back extensions, planks (modified to knees if needed), walking, and reinforcement of basic functional movements. The best thing to remember day-to-day is to keep moving - a little or a lot, depending on how your LBP is doing, will do wonders to help you.

Exercising With Asthma

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder, which creates variable obstruction to airflow, chronic inflammation of the airway, and elevated bronchial reaction to various triggers. These triggers can be allergens, stress environmental factors, genetic factors, or exercise. Asthma can be an almost constant presence for some; others may experience an episode only in the face of one or more of these triggers.

Although aerobic exercise, or cardio, can itself bring on an asthmatic episode, called exercise-induced asthma (EIA), generally exercise can help control how often and how harsh the attacks are. Asthmatics who engage in cardio activity two or three times a week, for around half an hour each time, will likely show improvements in their oxygen consumption, heart rate, and ventilation. There seems to be little proof that exercise makes asthma worse, or that sufferers should avoid exercise.

Read more: Exercising With Asthma

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