EXERCISE AND SLEEP BETTER

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Bodyweight exercise can help improve your sleep.
Exercise for Better Sleep
By Donovan Baldwin

Many research studies have proven that the amount of physical exercise that you perform during the day is a key ingredient to helping you get a good night's sleep.

For most people, the more active your body is during the day, the more likely you are to able to relax at night. With the best exercise programs, you will probably fall asleep faster, and sleep better as exercise can help reduce the effects of worry and stress.

This is an important health benefit of exercise. It has also been proven by many studies that regular, restful sleep is a key factor in living a long and healhty life.

More and more research is showing us things about the best exercise programs, such as:
  • People who exercise and get enough good sleep tend to live longer, healthier lives.
  • The amount of sleep a person gets, or doesn't get, can be linked to weight problems.
  • Older people need more sleep than previously believed in order to retain their health and vigor.
This is just a small reminder of how exercise and sleeping better benefits us.

With a regular, moderate exercise program you will soon begin to notice that your quality of sleep is improved and, probably unnoticed by you but important to the restorative power of sleep, the transition between the cycles and phases of sleep will become smoother and more regular. You should certainly not expect changes overnight (no joke intended) but simply by keeping up your physical activity during the day, you may find it easier to deal with the stress and worries of your life. After all, it has been shown over and over again that stress not only has its own negative effects on health, but also interferes with sleep. It has also been shown that exercise, which has many other health benefits, is also an important tool for people who want to manage stress.

Relationship Between Exercise and Better Sleep
Over the years, many research programs and studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between how much we exercise and how we feel afterwards.

This extensive research has established that a good exercise program, or at least some regular physical activity such as gardening or walking, is imperative for health, vitality and vigor...particularly in seniors, by the way. As pointed out earlier, both exercise and sleep can help a person lose weight, and this can also have a profound effect on both health and happiness.

If you simply don't want to get into a formal exericse program, you should, at the minimum, try to increase your physical activity during the day.

You can make use of such simple tactics as parking farther away from the store or office you are visiting, or doing some stretches in front of the TV. While a more formal exercise program may produce more beneficial effects, anything you can do to get moving during the day will help. After all, the goal here is simply to give your body enough stimulation during the day so that you aren't full of energy at night. Regular physical activity helps releave stress and moderate the chemical surges which occur within the body and which can keep the mind whirling when it's bedtime.

It is a simple, but well-documented, fact the your body requires a certain amount of physical activity in order to keep functioning in a healthy manner. It is also important to note at this point, by the way, that you should not be exercising three or four hours before you go to bed as the physical elevations which occur during intense exercise can interfere with the sleep process...particularly the "falling asleep" part. Remember, "intense exercise" is a relative term, but if you are not sure, just take it easy before bedtime. Give your body and mind time to relax and prepare for sleep.

Just a note, recent studies have shown that working or playing on the computer, or watching TV right before bed can actually interfere with falling asleep and getting proper sleep because of stimulation of certain portions of the brain. Good word of advice: If you want to fall asleep peacefully, do not watch the news before bed!

Back to the Topic: Exercise and Sleep Better

The ideal exercise time for most of us is going to be in the late afternoon or early evening, but NOT right before bedtime as that can actually interfere with falling asleep as pointed out earlier. You want to make sure you expend your physical energy long before it is time for your body to rest and ready itself for sleep. However, exercise is going to be of value even if done during the morning. I personally prefer morning exercise and either walk a couple of miles or work out with dumbbells before starting my day.

You should attempt to exercise at least three or four times a week for a period of 30 minutes or so. You can make your "exercise program" something as simple as taking a walk. If you prefer, you can include strenuous activities such as running, or resistance exercises such as weight lifting, as well. In fact, varying your exercise program eliminates boredom and provides various body parts and systems with a diverse regimen of exercise.

The goal here should be to increase your heart rate and strengthen the capacity of your lungs.

Cardio (cardiovascular exercises), such as running or aerobics, is going to be the best type of exercise for this goal. Don't forget, however, that the body really needs three types of exercise for maximum health: cardio, resistance (strength building), and flexibility. By adding a regular exercise activity to your daily schedule will help you to improve your overall health and will help you emotionally as well.

Besides activities such as running, swimming, bicycling, and walking there are several other physical activities that you can add to your daily life to increase your level of physical activity. If you are seeking better exercise and health benefits but are battling not sleeping, you'll find aerobic exercises to be the best so get yourself a Richard Simmons tape and have at it!

Ultimately, your goal with exercise is to increase the amount of oxygen that reaches your blood stream. There are many types of aerobic exercise for you to choose from to accomplish this so you should be able to find one which works well for you. These activities include running, biking, using a treadmill, dancing, and jumping rope, just to mention a few. You might also want to investigate purchasing one of the relatively inexpensive yet effective all in one exercise machines such as the Total Gym or Total Body Works Home Gym 5000. I used to work with the husband of a lady who worked for Chuck Norris, the martial arts expert and star of "Walker, Texas Ranger". My friend told me that Chuck Norris not only was a spokesman for Total Gym, but did indeed own one and use it regularly. If you don't want to pay for a Total Gym, you can get a Weider Total Body Works Home Gym 5000 from WalMart.

Additionally, there are some non-aerobic exercises and disciplines that you may find are also beneficial to help you solve your insomnia problem.

Yoga

Yoga is an ancient exercise method that has many health benefits including a stimulatory effect on your nervous system, and especially on the brain. Yoga uses breathing techniques and various yoga postures to increase the blood circulation to the brain, promoting regular and restful sleeping patterns.  The regular practice of yoga will help you to relax as well as relieve tension and stress.  Many people are hesitant to attempt yoga because it seems so difficult, especially if you are looking at the pictures of experienced yogis. However, it is not necessary to get every position (asana) exactly right to experience the health benefits of yoga.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is lesser known ancient art of breathing and movement that was developed by the Chinese monks.  The movements of Tai Chi are done slowly and in a precise manner, which is ideal if you have joint pains or you are unable to participate in high level aerobic exercises (cardio).  Research has shown that Tai Chi can help with insomnia by promoting relaxation.

Both disciplines, yoga and Tai Chi, can produce a state of meditation which also helps relieve stress and creates a better mental and physical state of mind and body which can lead to better sleep.

If you honestly wish you could buy into the idea that you can exercise and sleep better but feel that you don't have any time to exercise on a regular basis, you could try to sneak in moments of activity as you go about your daily schedule. For example, whenever possible, you should take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Little things like that done regularly will do wonders for your body and your mind.

You could also park your car down the block or around the corner and walk that extra block or two to get to your destination. My wife tried this with great results when she worked in downtown Austin. Later, she stopped driving and rode the bus and got off a couple of stops away from her office and walked the rest of the way. A lady in Atlanta was recently mentioned on CNN as having lost several pounds in additiona to better sleep and health benefits by using this simple tactic.

As you will easily realize, once you start thinking about it, there are many small things you can add to increase the activity in your life.  Your overall goal here is to have a healthy and well balanced life - with plenty of sleep.

Trust me. I am a sixty-eight year old male who sleeps just fine and and I have experienced first hand the better sleep and exercise benefits associated with taking control of your life in this way.

It is a fact you can exercise and sleep better.



While I do not normally recommend diets themselves, healthy eating is important to any health, fitness, or weight loss program. Click Here to learn more about Diet To Go meals.

P. S. If you want to learn more about why Diets Don't Work, please click here.

If you want to learn how to burn fat, a great book to read is Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto

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Exercise and Sleep Better

Page Updated 8:09 AM Wednesday 3/4/2015