Resistant exercise could improve sleep more than aerobic exercise

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In a new study from Iowa State University, researchers found that resistance exercise that strengthens muscles may be better than aerobic exercise for improving the duration and quality of sleep.

And that could be good for your heart.

It is increasingly recognized that getting enough sleep, particularly high-quality sleep, is important for health, including cardiovascular health.

While aerobic activity is often recommended to improve sleep, a previous government report called for more research into resistance exercise and sleep outcomes.

In the study, the team assigned 386 inactive, overweight adults with high blood pressure to one of several groups: supervised resistance or aerobic exercise three times a week for 60 minutes over a year; combined resistance/aerobic exercise; or a control group with no supervised exercise.

Resistance exercise participants worked all major muscle groups using 12 resistance machines to do three sets of eight to 16 repetitions on each machine.

Aerobic exercise participants could choose among treadmills, upright or recumbent bicycles, or elliptical machines, which they used with moderate to vigorous intensity to get their heart rate into the target range.

The combination group split their time between the types of exercise during each session.

Total sleep quality, sleep duration, the time it took to fall asleep, the time they spent in bed, and the number and frequency of sleep disturbances were measured using self-reported questionnaires at the beginning of the study and again at the end of one year.

The team found the quality of sleep improved and the number of sleep disturbances decreased for all groups in the study.

Among the 42% of participants who began the study getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, those doing resistance exercise – but none of the other groups – were able to extend their average sleep time by 17 minutes per night.

Those doing resistance exercise also found it took three minutes less to fall asleep each night.

The team says while both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for overall health, the results suggest that resistance exercises may be superior when it comes to getting better sleep at night.

Angelique Brellenthin et al. conducted the study, which was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health conference.

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