Exercises that raise the heart rate can boost your odds of getting a good night’s sleep. But low-intensity activities — such as household chores and childcare — have the opposite effect.
That’s the upshot of new research by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that linked improvements in sleep quality to such activities as walking, aerobics, calisthenics, biking, gardening, golfing, running, weight-lifting, and yoga or Pilates.
The findings, to be presented next week at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep in Seattle, add to a growing body of scientific evidence that physical activity is associated with healthy sleep.
But the new study, led by sleep specialist Michael Grandner, goes beyond past research to identify specific types of physical activities that most improve sleep quality, as well as those that may get in the way of getting good night’s rest.
The conclusions are based on an analysis of sleep and physical activities of 429,110 adults. Researchers examined how often participants engaged in 10 types of activities and how much sleep they reported in a typical 24-hour period.
The results showed those who engaged in the least physical activity reported the poorest sleep quality. At the same time, all types of exercise — except for housework and childcare — were associated with a better sleep, regardless of age, weight, gender, or other factors.
"Although previous research has shown that lack of exercise is associated with poor sleep, the results of this study were surprising," said Grandner. "Not only does this study show that those who get exercise simply by walking are more likely to have better sleep habits, but these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as running and yoga, and even gardening and golf.
“It was also interesting that people who receive most of their activity from housework and childcare were more likely to experience insufficient sleep - we know that home and work demands are some of the main reasons people lose sleep."
He also noted many studies show that lack of sleep is associated with poor physical and mental health — including increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and dementia.
© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.