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Did you know that obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes have a common denominator?
It’s poor sleep. Whether it’s insufficient, irregular or variable, not getting good sleep can tear down your health.
Sure, you can take a sleeping pill. But those can be addictive and carry additional risks if you’re older.
Instead, you might want to opt for something completely natural that comes with the kind of side effects you’ll actually appreciate — maybe even dream about…
Don’t resist it — dream it
“It is increasingly recognized that getting enough sleep, particularly high-quality sleep, is important for health including cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis,” says Angelique Brellenthin, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State. “Aerobic activity is often recommended to improve sleep, yet very little is known about the effects of resistance exercise versus aerobic exercise on sleep.”
But not anymore, thanks to the 12 months of work she and her team of scientists, as well as a group of 386 participants put in.
The researchers randomly assigned volunteers who were either overweight or obese couch potatoes with elevated blood pressure to a no-exercise group or one of three exercise groups (aerobic only, resistance only, or combined aerobic and resistance).
Over the following year, they performed multiple measures of sleep quality to assess how the different exercise groups were faring.
Here’s how it broke down:
- Participants who were picked for the aerobic-only group used either a treadmill, upright or recumbent bike or elliptical to complete their moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise.
- The resistance exercise group completed their sets and repetitions on 12 resistance machines to work all the major muscle groups in a session. They performed three sets of 8 to 16 repetitions at 50-80% of their one-rep maximum.
- The combination group did 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity, followed by two sets of 8 to 16 repetitions of resistance exercise on 9 machines instead of 12.
So are you ready for the answer to what type of exercise can help you get your ZZZs?
Resistance exercise for the win
The results showed that:
- Participants who performed resistance training increased their sleep duration increased by an average of 40 minutes, compared to about 23 minutes in the aerobic exercise group, 17 minutes in the combined exercise group and 15 minutes in the control group.
- Sleep efficiency (the amount of time you’re actually asleep divided by your total time in bed) increased in the resistance exercise and combined exercise groups, but not in the aerobic exercise or no exercise group.
- The time it took to fall asleep decreased by three minutes for those who performed resistance exercises, but not for other groups.
- Sleep quality improved and the amount of sleep disturbance experienced (like waking up to get some water or go to the bathroom) improved some in all groups.
“While both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for overall health, our results suggest that resistance exercises may be superior when it comes to getting better ZZZs at night,” Brellenthin said. “Therefore, if your sleep has gotten noticeably worse over the past two stressful years, consider incorporating two or more resistance exercise training sessions into your regular exercise routine to improve your general muscle and bone health, as well as your sleep.”
So if you want to rest better and longer, pump up some zzzs with resistance exercise. Resistance workout machines, like those used in the study, are accessible in most gyms (even home gyms), or simply lifting weights provides the same resistance.
And there’s more good news.
Resistance training has also been proven to trigger your body’s fat-burning mode. Talk about a double whammy in the benefits column!
Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!