(dailyRx News) It's no secret that you feel better when you're well-rested, or that you'll be healthier if you get some exercise. But what you may not know is that the two go hand in hand together.
Having a fitness regimen can actually help you sleep better, and feel more alert during the day. Aim for at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, to attain a better quality of sleep.
In a recent study at Oregon State University, OSU professor Brad Cardinal and Bellarmine University professor Paul Loprinzi led research.
"Our findings demonstrate a link between regular physical activity and perceptions of sleepiness during the day, which suggests that participation in physical activity on a regular basis may positively influence an individual's productivity at work, or in the case of a student, influence their ability to pay attention in class,” Loprinzi said.
The research team looked at a nationally representative sample of more than 3,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 85. Participants, who were controlled for smoking, depression, body mass index and overall health, wore an ActiGraph 7164 accelerometer on their right hips for seven days to measure physical activity, followed by interviews on their sleep patterns.
Those who got at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week, the national guideline, showed a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality. They also felt less sleepy during the day, had fewer leg cramps while sleeping and less difficulty concentrating when tired than those with less physical activity.
This is the first such study to use objectively measured physical activity. Past studies to link exercise to sleep used only self-reported levels of activity, and most people overestimate the amount of activity they do.
Cardinal added that while it may be easier to skip a work-out when you are tired, it may be beneficial for your long-term health to make the decision to go ahead and exercise. "Physical activity may not just be good for the waistline and heart, but it also can help you sleep."
Findings were published in the November 2011 issue of Mental Health and Physical Activity.