Exercise Improves Sleep

Exercise improves sleepDo you have a problem falling asleep at night? Do you suffer from leg cramps while sleeping? Are you sleepy during the daytime? Do you have difficulty concentrating when you are tired?

If so, you are not unusual. As many as 4 out of every 10 American adults have a sleep problem such as these.

But before you resign yourself to living with the problem, or decide to pop sleeping pills, consider a new study done at Oregon State University and reported in the December 2011 issue of the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity.

The study found that those who got at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week had a dramatic improvement in the quality of their sleep compared to those who did not exercise as much. The exercisers . . .

  • got to sleep more quickly
  • were less likely to feel sleepy during the day (65 percent less likely)
  • had fewer leg cramps while sleeping (68 percent less likely)
  • had less difficulty concentrating when tired (45 percent decrease)

(You may recognize the 150 minutes a week as the standard established by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.)

Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise science at Oregon State University and one of the study’s authors, concluded that “Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging that regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep.”

There is mounting evidence that regular exercise is not just good for your heart, your brain and your waistline but it also can help you sleep at night and remain alert during the day.

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