Active Seniors

New insights into exercise and sleep

Everyone knows that wonderful feeling of waking up feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep. There are many health benefits to improved sleep quality and quantity including better control of inflammation, blood sugar levels and also a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular related events. However, like many areas of health, it appears that not all exercise is equal in improving the quantity and qualify of sleep.

Preliminary research presented at the recent American Heart Association’s conference in March showed that while any type of exercise is beneficial in increasing sleep quantity in particular, that certain types are more effective than others. The research recruited 386 overweight adults who were inactive, but had normal blood pressure. Study participants were assigned to 1 of 4 groups randomly; no exercise (control group), aerobic exercise only, resistance exercise only, or combined aerobic and resistance exercise.

All of the exercise sessions were the same duration and performed this type of exercise for 12 months. At the start of the study, 35% of participants had poor sleep quality in which participants did not get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. Other sleep aspects that were measured in addition to sleep duration include time asleep vs time in bed (termed sleep efficiency), how long it took to get to sleep and how much disturbance to sleep participants had throughout the night. 

Sleep duration increased in all groups, however double the increase (on average 40 minutes extra) was noted in the resistance training group. In addition, sleep efficiency improved in the resistance and combined training groups only and not in the aerobic group or in the control group. There was also a slight reduction in the time it took for people to fall asleep in the resistance group only that was not recorded in the other groups. 

This new research highlights yet another important benefit of regular resistance or strength training. The resistance exercise program used in this study involved 12 exercises performed for 3 sets of between 8-16 repetitions at an intensity of 50-80% of maximum. Exercises targeted all major muscle groups. While the study did involve the use of exercise machines, it is very easy to perform resistance exercises at home with minimal equipment. If you would like some help with this we have virtual memberships designed to keep you active in the comfort of your home. For more information about the virtual memberships please click here

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