Which Types of Physical Activity Bring a Better Night's Sleep?

You know fitness leads to better sleep, but some physical activity isn’t so helpful come bedtime

Sleep—we know it’s important to get the right amount, but it’s not always easy. The list of things that can keep us up is virtually endless, but physical activity is the one thing we can always rely on for a great night’s sleep, right?

Not exactly; according to a new study from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The study included 429,110 adults and took into account the physical activities they engaged in and the amount of sleep they got. The results were adjusted for age, sex, BMI and education level and the answer they found might surprise you.

Researchers found that walking, aerobic exercise, biking, gardening, golfing, running, weight-lifting, and yoga/Pilates were all associated with better sleep, when compared with no physical activity—that’s not the surprising part.

The interesting finding was that other types of physical activity, like household chores and childcare, were associated with poor and deficient sleep.

Dr. Michael Grandner, instructor in Psychiatry and member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at Penn, led the study and spoke to Science Daily about their findings.

Although previous research has shown that lack of exercise is associated with poor sleep, the results of this study were surprising. 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.

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