Walking 2,000 More Steps a Day Could Help You Sleep Better

The recommendation to increase physical activity in order to reap large benefits such as better sleep may lead you to believe you require a major jump, such as doubling your daily step count to 20,000 steps. However, study shows that there are fewer processes involved than you might believe.
In a research published in Sleep Health, 59 people aged 50 and up increased their walking by a small amount over the course of four weeks. Those who took more steps slept better than those who took fewer steps.
According to the study’s lead author, Margie Lachman, PhD, a professor of psychology at Brandeis University, the extra walking had a significant impact on the quality of their sleep, even if it didn’t change how long they slept.
“These findings imply that low-impact physical activity is linked to improved sleep in general, and this is especially true for women vs men,” she says.

CONNECTION BETWEEN SLEEP AND EXERCISE

According to Dr. Charlene Gamaldo, medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep and Wellness, the mechanism behind why exercise improves sleep is yet unknown.
According to study, regular exercise improves the quantity of slow-wave sleep, a type of deep sleep that allows your body and brain to restore themselves. This results in higher-quality sleep, which can help you feel more refreshed and energised during the day. It also works quickly: take more steps today, and you’ll sleep better tonight.
“It will not take months or years to observe a benefit,” Gamaldo says. “Becoming a great sleeper doesn’t have to feel like training for a marathon.”

BEYOND THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

Focusing on increasing your activity to enhance sleep is beneficial, but Lachman points out that there are many other benefits to exercise, including physical and psychological well-being, especially as you become older. However, she believes such activity is underutilised.
That doesn’t even include exercise, as in setting aside a time to complete a cardio or strength training. According to Lachman, simply increasing daily exercise, such as walking more, is insufficient for many people, particularly the elderly.
She claims that physical activity is one of the most promising nonpharmacological, noninvasive, and cost-effective ways to improve one’s health. “However, statistics suggest that only a small percentage of middle-aged and older persons exercise regularly as recommended.”
Walking has been demonstrated to boost weight-loss efforts, balance, mental health, cardiovascular function, and other benefits, in addition to more quality sleep.

EVERY STEP MATTERS.

If you don’t like walking or can’t fit more steps into your day, there’s good news: various low-intensity activities can help you meet the suggested target of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week.
Even if you only move for a few minutes at a time — doing the dishes, cleaning the home, gardening, or including a few yoga stretches into your work breaks — it all adds up and can enhance those health markers as well as your sleep.
A research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, for example, looked at a sample of little over 1,500 males who provided health and behaviour data in the late 1970s and then again in 2016. Researchers looked into the links between sedentary behaviour, various levels of physical exercise, and the risk of premature death.
Sedentary behaviour was linked to a higher risk of dying at a younger age than the other participants in the study. According to study co-author Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, there was little variation in physical exercise intensity.
Those who completed their 150 minutes of activity in longer than 10-minute bursts were not significantly better off than those who completed it in considerably shorter periods of time.
“In general, all movement is beneficial,” she explains. “Previous activity standards demanded a 10-minute minimum of vigorous exercise, but current scientific evidence suggests that a 10-minute minimum of intense exercise is no longer necessary.
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