Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sleep Easy with Exercise

A new study published in the Journal Mental Health and Physical Activity reported that those who exercised at a moderate to vigorous level for 50 minutes three times a week had a 65% chance for better sleep quantity than for those that exercised less. These people also stated they felt more alert all day and had fewer leg cramps while sleeping. There now is evidence that regular physical activity may be the next step to improve sleep without prescription sleep aides. Using exercise guidelines that have been used for cardiovascular health can make you stronger, improve your heart health and benefits your sleep. The study included health data from more than 3,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 85. They wore a monitor on their right hip for a week and were questioned on their quality of their sleep as well as how easy it was to fall asleep.

No mention of what physical activities were used during the study. According to the Center of Decease Control and Prevention’s website in 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, you need to do two types of physical activity each week to improve your health–aerobic and muscle-strengthening.

Adults needs at least:

Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).


1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).


An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and
muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).

10 minutes at a time is fine. We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but you don't have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day. As long as you're doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Give it a try

Try going for a 10-minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week. This will give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

Don’t exercise right before bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising 2 to 3 hours before bed could interfere with your sleep. Instead, exercise in the morning or afternoon.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center showed that morning exercise increased the sleep quality of cancer-free post-menopausal women, but when the women exercised closer to bedtime, there was no improvement in sleep quality.

In the study, over 170 women (aged 50 to 75) participated in either a moderately intense exercise program for a year or a low-intensity stretching program. Women who exercised at least 225 minutes a week in the morning reported better sleep than women who exercise 180 minutes or less in the morning. The opposite effect was noted among evening exercisers: Women who exercised only 180 minutes or less in the evening reported better sleep than those who exercised more in the evening.

Researchers believe that morning exercise may help to set a person’s circadian rhythms (body clock) to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Exercising at night may create the pattern that the body is too awake in the evening.

STOP THE SLEEP PILL INSANITY! QUIT Running to the medicine cabinet or to doctors for sleeping pills, aerobic exercise might be the best prescription. Scientists at Northwestern University say sleep problems affect millions of adults, who could likely improve their quality of sleep, vitality, and mood with regular aerobic exercise.

Researchers say the participants who exercised reported that their sleep quality improved, raising their diagnosis from poor to good sleeper. They also reported fewer depressive symptoms, more vitality, and less afternoon sleepiness. A drug-free treatment is best for insomnia because it eliminates the potential of sleep medications interacting with other drugs a person might be taking.

By improving a person’s sleep, you can improve their physical and mental health, more sleep means less stress and a better way to manage hypertension and diabetes. Exercise also is good for your metabolism and weight management.

Exercise to help sleep takes planning, but can greatly increase the chance of getting a good night's rest. An exercise program not only helps people sleep better, it also encourages greater waking efficiency and alertness. However, before starting exercise to sleep better, visit a doctor to develop an exercise program that works for you.

Adding exercise to sleep better can improve sleep quality. However, exercise to help sleep need not be a dramatic increase in activity. Simply raising the heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes a day, a few days a week may be enough exercise to improve sleep. For those who have trouble finding the time to exercise, breaking up workout times into 10-minute periods can make it easier to squeeze in exercise throughout the day.

In order to get the maximum benefit from sleep and exercise, aim for some type of cardiovascular exercise at least six days a week, such as:

• Jogging
• Jumping rope
• Kickboxing
• Riding a bike
• Walking.

Strength training is important for building muscle, increasing bone density and raising metabolism. Incorporate some light weight lifting into exercise programs to get the most benefit from the time spent exercising.

Another exercise to sleep better involves stretching throughout the day to relieve stiffness and tension. Yoga classes and physical therapists teach stretching techniques. Slow, gentle stretches at bedtime might also improve sleep and increase relaxation.

The content provided in Sleep Easy with Exercise is for information purposes only, intended to raise the awareness of different solutions for you or your families sleep problems and should not be considered medical advice. For medical diagnosis and treatment, please see your qualified health-care professional.
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