Older women who slept well exercised more and at higher intensities the next day, according to new research to be published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
The study is the first to establish a potential cause-and-effect relationship between sleep and exercise in older women. The findings are important because women’s quality of sleep and activity levels often decline with age. Presumably, if women’s sleep quality could be improved, so might their exercise habits.
The investigators analyzed data from the 2011 Healthy Women Study, which considered long-term cardiovascular risk factors in women before and after menopause. Participants included 143 older women with an average age of 73. For seven days, the women wore devices that kept track of their exercise frequency and intensity, as well as their amount and quality of sleep.
The quality of sleep was gauged by how deeply the women slept and how often they woke up. When sleep was 10 percent better, a woman’s activity level increased by 3.2 percent, and the probability of more vigorous exercise also increased.
“Thus, normal fluctuations in sleep quality may have immediate effects on a person’s willingness to be physically activity the following day,” the authors wrote. “Women who are well-rested may feel more energetic and be more likely to engage in greater amounts and intensities of activities throughout the day.”