Sleep is an anabolic condition that promotes the renewal and growth of the skeletal, immunological, and muscular systems.
Sleep helps to regulate hormones, boost metabolism, maintain a healthy immune system, improve mental function, and increase physical vitality. According to studies, 1/3 of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
Aerobic exercise is recommended by the American Heart Association to improve sleep and cardiovascular health, but little is known about how it compares to other types of exercise in the general population.
In a study directed by Brellenthin and co-investigator Duck-Chul Lee, Ph.D., both of Iowa State University in Ames, 406 inactive people were recruited. Individuals aged from 35 to 70 years old, were obese or overweight (mean BMI 31.2 kg/m2), and had elevated or stage 1 hypertension. They were randomly assigned to either no exercise or 60 minutes of supervised aerobic, resistance, or combination exercise three times per week for a period of 12 months.
The aerobic exercise group, resistance exercise group, and combined exercise group were all subjected to their respective well-known exercise regimens, while the no-exercise group was monitored in the same way. Over the course of the year, exercise adherence was 84 percent, 77 percent, and 85 percent, respectively.
At the beginning and at the end of the study, participants took a range of tests, including the self-reported Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), which assesses sleep quality.
Following the completion of the investigation, the researchers discovered that:
- More than one-third (35%) of study participants had poor sleep quality at the start of the study.
- Sleep duration increased by an average of 40 minutes for the resistance exercise group in 12 months, compared to an increase of about 23 minutes for the aerobic exercise group, about 17 minutes for the combined exercise group, and about 15 minutes for the control group, among the 42 percent of participants who did not get at least 7 hours of sleep at the start of the study.
- The resistance exercise and combination exercise groups improved their sleep efficiency, whereas the aerobic exercise and no exercise groups did not.
- The group allocated to resistance training only saw a small decrease in sleep latency of 3 minutes, with no significant changes in latency in the other participant groups.
- All groups, including the non-exercising group, had some improvement in sleep quality and sleep disruptions.
Therefore, resistance exercise programs could be a novel strategy to promote better sleep and cardiovascular health.
The study’s limitations included the use of self-reported sleep outcomes and a lack of precise information on sleep drugs, despite the fact that 81 percent of participants said they didn’t take any.