Sleep Quality: The positive impact of exercise

Exercise has an immediate impact on sleep that night

New research shows that the amount of exercise that a teenager gets on a given day can have an immediate impact on the quality of their sleep that night. Getting more exercise than normal helped induce sleep faster, and for longer than normal. A reduced level of exercise, on the other hand, caused the participants to take longer to go to sleep and have a poorer sleep quality.

The researchers reported that for every additional hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, participants fell asleep 18 minutes earlier and slept 10 minutes longer. Their sleeping quality also improved. In contrast, participants who had been more sedentary during the day fell asleep and woke up later but also slept for a shorter overall period of time.

sleep by Naas Physio Clinic

The participants wore accelerometers on their wrists and; therefore, the activity measurement was more accurate than other studies using self-report methods. The findings of this study correlate with the findings of a meta-analysis which found that individuals who participate in regular physical activity over months and years are more likely to have adequate sleep duration, improved sleeping continuity, and experience less frequent daytime sleepiness (Kredlow et al. 2015).

Positive Impact of Running on Sleep Quality

In a randomised-controlled trial by Kalak et al. (2012) it was found that student participation in a 3-week running group (vs. a group seated during this time) significantly improved subjective sleep quality, shortened objective onset latency, improved mood, reduced daytime sleepiness, and increased proportion of slow-wave brain wave pattern while sleeping.

sleep and exercise by Naas Physio Clinic

What is the impact of Prolonged Sitting?

It would be interesting to analyse the impact of prolonged sitting, which mimics the daily routine of most people, on sleep quality. Add to a work shift, several hours commuting and it may well not only rob you of your time during the day but also rob you of your sleep quality at night.

The irony is that because people feel fatigued from prolonged sitting during the day they lack the motivation to exercise. This impacts on the quality of nighttime slumber and creates a viscious cycle of fatigue and sleep deprivation. If you want to achieve restorative sleep then exercise and movement should form a key element of your daily routine.

Journal References:

  1. Lindsay Master, Russell T. Nye, Soomi Lee, Nicole G. Nahmod, Sara Mariani, Lauren Hale, Orfeu M. Buxton. Bidirectional, Daily Temporal Associations between Sleep and Physical Activity in AdolescentsScientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 1038/s41598-019-44059-9
  2. Kredlow, M. A., Capozzoli, M. C., Hearon, B. A., Calkins, A. W. & Otto, M. W. A meta-analytic review. Journal of Behavioral Medicine38, 427–449, (2015).
  3. Kalak, N. et al. Daily morning running for 3 weeks improved psychological functioning in healthy adolescents compared with controls. Journal of Adolescent Health51, 615–622, (2012).

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What impact does my sitting & exercise habits have on how long I will live?

Prolonged Sitting Negatively Impacts on Longevity. Can Exercise Counteract it?

The media is full of stories of the harmful effects of prolonged sitting. You might ask yourself: “how can I do anything about this when sitting is a requirement of my job?” Therefore, it would be interesting to identify how much movement or exercise is required to counteract the negative impact of sitting, if this is possible.

Cardiovascular exercise consistently demonstrates a reduction in cardiovascular disease by as much as 50%. The benefits of other forms of exercise such as resistance training is less clear. As discussed in the previous blog, exercise is only beneficial in terms of longevity when it is sustained throughout life. In other words, those that exercise when they are young, and then stop, derive no lasting benefit from it.

How Much Exercise is Required to Undo the Harmful Effects of Sitting?

According to MedScape, those who exercised for roughly 150-200 minutes per week countered some of the negative cardiovascular effects of prolonged sitting. The risks were “all but erased” for participants who engaged in at least 300 minutes of physical exercise per week. This equates to 45 minutes per day.

It is logical to surmise that the longer somebody sits then the longer they would have to move in an attempt to counteract the negative impact of being static. Others suggest that exercise cannot fully undo the harmful effects of being static for hours on end. Perhaps it is like saying that eating sweets twice a day can be undone by eating vegetables with your dinner! When the impact of prolonged sitting is examined it demonstrates that negative changes occur in inflammatory and cardiovascular markers that would indicate that it is doing harm to the body. The optimal way of dealing with this is to move intermittently, just as the optimal way of maintaining health is to avoid making bad food choices in the first place as opposed to trying to counteract unhealthy choices by eating healthier foods at other meals.

From an evolutionary perspective, we know that we are designed to move consistently. At no time in human history have we spent so much time sitting in one place. The consequences of this are manifest in terms of obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental health statistics. Our nervous systems and brains are stimulated through movement. The lack of healthy stimulus for our brains can create brain fog, fatigue, and anxiety. This then decreases a person’s motivation to exercise and creates a negative feedback loop that gives rise to more sitting and less drive to exercise.

Telomeres and Longevity

One means of determining lifespan is by measuring components at the end of our chromosomes known as telomeres. A whole industry has built up trying to sell products that prevent the breakdown of telomeres and thereby slowing the ageing process and prolong lifespan.

Professor Larry Tucker performed research on 5,823 adults. They found that those adults who performed high levels of physical activity each week had almost 9 years less biologic aging of their chromosomes compared to those who were sedentary. Those who performed vigorous activity 35-45 minutes per day, 5 days per week, had the longest telomeres. Those undergoing moderate exercise intensity had to exercise for longer to achieve these same benefits.

running image by physio clinic

Running Can Literally Add Years to Your Life

According to Angelique Brellenthin, runners tend to live on average three years longer than non-runners. She states that “We further estimated that for every 1 hour you spend running, you net gain an additional 7 hours of life. Beyond running, other studies have found that people live on average 3-4 years longer if they are regularly active compared to inactive.”

The key to obtaining longevity benefits from exercise is that it is sustained into old-age. Therefore, it is very important that exercise is as enjoyable as possible, so that it is maintained. It is vital to minimise the amount of time you spend sitting and to realise that prolonged sitting will have a negative impact physically and mentally. Because prolonged inactivity creates a sense of mental fatigue it decreases our motivation to exercise and therefore, building movement into our day provides a multitude of benefits for our health.

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Chiropractic manipulation can help to ease low back pain

Chiropractic manipulation effective for back pain

Chiropractic manipulation therapy is not routinely recommended as the initial treatment for low back pain, but a research review suggests this approach may work as well as interventions that doctors typically prescribe first.

Research published in the British Medical Journal analysed data from 47 studies involving a total of 9,211 adults. The authors reported that spinal manipulation eased lower back pain as much as exercise, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and painkillers. Spinal manipulation also appeared better for improving short-term function.

“At the moment, spinal manipulation is considered a second-line or adjunctive treatment option in international guidelines,” said lead study author Sidney Rubinstein of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.

According to Rubinstein: “these results would suggest that spinal manipulation is certainly on-par with these other recommended therapies, and can be considered an option”.

chiropractic manipulation treatment of low back pain

Lower-back pain is one of the leading causes of disability and doctor visits for adults worldwide. It often goes away within a few weeks. But when it persists, lower-back pain might be treated with spinal manipulation, medications , heat, exercise or physical therapy.

Spinal manipulation is often done by chiropractors but may also be offered by physiotherapists or physicians. It involves manually moving joints of the spine to increase joint motion. Manipulation also stimulates the nervous system in order to release tension on the surrounding muscles. Chiropractic manipulation is often used for back and neck pain as well as for headaches.

For the current study, researchers focused on the gold standard for determining the effectiveness of medical treatments: randomised controlled trials. These compare outcomes for patients who are randomly assigned to a specific treatment or to a dummy treatment or no treatment at all.

Spinal Manipulation More Effective than Massage

Chiropractic manipulation worked better for pain relief than non-recommended interventions like light tissue massage, the current analysis found.

“Spinal manipulation may decrease pain from muscle strain, inflammation and spasm in your back muscles and/or impact the way that your body perceives pain through either the brain or the spinal cord,” said Christine Goertz, chief executive officer of the Spine Institute for Quality in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

“The most common side effects resulting from spinal manipulation are mild to moderate joint or muscle pain and/or stiffness,” Goertz, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “These symptoms generally go away on their own within a day or two.”


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