Regular Physical Exercise Can Help Individuals Sleep Better and Live Longer, Study Shows

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Getting the right amount of sleep is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A recent study reveals that exercise can counter the negative impacts of inadequate sleep and even prolong lifespan.

Exercising can help people with sleep problems improve sleep quality

According to Dr. Jihui Zhang of The Affiliated Brain Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, China, higher levels of physical activity can help reduce the risks of mortality associated with insufficient and excessive sleep duration.

The potential synergy between high-quality sleep and exercise in promoting longevity has been unclear because previous studies relied on self-reported physical activity and sleep measures.

Researchers used an accelerometer hand device to measure movement and determine the correlation between sleep and exercise in 92,221 adults. They classified nightly sleep duration and exercise volume and found that moderate-to-vigorous activity was associated with reduced mortality risk, regardless of sleep duration. The study’s team accounted for various factors that could have influenced the results, including education level, sex, ethnicity, age, and lifestyle habits such as smoking, diet, and alcohol consumption.

High-intensity exercise reduces the impact of poor sleep

Regular exercise can reduce the impact of poor sleep on mortality risk. For example, a study involving 3,080 participants showed that low exercise volume and short and long sleep duration increased the likelihood of all-cause death by 16% and 37%, respectively. In addition, short sleep was harmful to those engaging in intermediate amounts of exercise, increasing the risk of all-cause death by 41%.

However, high exercise volume reduced the impact of poor sleep. Short sleepers with low exercise volume had a 69% higher risk of cardiovascular death, which decreased with higher exercise volume. Long sleepers with low exercise volume had a 21% increased risk of cancer onset, which also declined as exercise volume increased.

Meeting the WHO guidelines for moderate-to-vigorous activity is linked to lower risks of all-cause death. Conversely, not meeting these guidelines, coupled with a short or long sleep, is associated with increased risks of 31% and 20%, respectively.

The researchers concluded that health efforts targeting both physical activity and sleep duration may be more effective in preventing premature death in middle-aged and older adults.

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