Strength training improves sleep more than cardio, study finds

A physically active lifestyle is known to promote healthier sleep, but many questions remain about exactly what types of exercise are best for a good night’s rest. Preliminary research results have offered compelling new answers in this area, demonstrating how boosting resistance-type workouts like weightlifting can lead to the most significant increases in sleep duration and quality.

The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, was conducted by scientists at Iowa State University and was designed to explore the links between exercise, sleep and cardiovascular health. Previous research has found strong links between poor sleep habits and high cholesterol, increased risk of stroke, and increased risk of heart disease. The authors of this new study set out to learn more about the types of exercise that can best help people mitigate these risks.

“There is growing recognition that getting enough sleep, especially quality sleep, is important for health, including cardiovascular health,” said study author Angelique Brellenthin. “Unfortunately, more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. Aerobic activity is often recommended to improve sleep, but very little is known about the effects of resistance exercise versus aerobic exercise on sleep. sleep.”

To fill in some of the gaps, the authors recruited 386 overweight or obese adults, who were inactive and had high blood pressure. Participants were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise group, a resistance exercise group, a combined aerobic and resistance exercise group, or a no-exercise group as a control group. Supervised 60-minute exercise sessions were held three times a week for 12 months.

Assessments at the start and end of the study looked at things like sleep quality, sleep duration, sleep efficiency (how much time spent sleeping compared to total time spent in bed ), sleep latency (how long it takes to fall asleep) and sleep disturbances. Thirty-five percent of participants were found to have poor quality sleep at the start of the study, and 42 percent of participants were not getting the recommended seven hours of sleep.

In the aerobic exercise group, which undertook activities such as treadmill running and recumbent bike sessions at moderate to vigorous intensity, scientists observed an average increase of 23 minutes in sleep duration per night. . In the resistance exercise group, which performed resistance workouts targeting all major muscle groups, the researchers observed an average increase of 40 minutes in sleep duration. The combined group, which performed 30 minutes of both types of exercises, saw an average increase of 17 minutes.

Other useful insights from the study include that sleep efficiency increased in the resistance and exercise-combined groups, but not in the aerobic-only group, and that sleep latency decreased on average. three minutes in the resistance group only.

“Although both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for overall health, our results suggest that resistance exercise may be superior when it comes to getting better ZZZs at night,” Brellenthin said. “Restraint exercises significantly improved sleep duration and efficiency, which are key indicators of sleep quality that reflect a person’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Therefore, If your sleep has deteriorated significantly over the past two stressful years, consider incorporating two or more bouts of resistance exercise into your regular exercise routine to improve your overall muscle and bone health, as well as your sleep.

The scientists are presenting their findings at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle, and Cardiometabolic Health conference in Chicago this week.

Source: American Heart Association

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