Swap your treadmill for a dumbbell and get a better night’s sleep

A new study released by the American Heart Foundation has found that resistance exercise is superior to aerobic exercise as a way to get a better night’s sleep. And having a good sleep pattern is important to improve overall cardiovascular health.

What do we mean when we say resistance exercise?

Some people think resistance training is all about the weights, but more generally, resistance exercise refers to anything where you lift or pull against resistance. It could be using kettlebells, a barbell, other weights, or machines such as a chest press or lat pulldown. Using any one of them to carry out a number of repetitions and usually rest in between.

Not often as much of a calorie burner as aerobic activities (like running, cycling etc), but resistance training is seen to be a great way to improve muscular fitness which has massive health benefits.

What was the study?

The study involved 386 adults who were classed as overweight and had a BMI ranging between 25-40. They split them into four different groups where they had to spend 60 minutes, 3 times a week, carrying out their specified exercise:

  • No exercise:
    • Used as the control group.
  • Aerobic exercise only:
    • Working on treadmills, exercise bikes and cross-trainers. Heart monitors were used to ensure that participants were always working in moderate/intense zone.
  • Resistance exercise only:
    • Used 12 different resistance machines to focus on all muscle groups, such as chest press, lat pulldown, abdominal crunch, bicep curl etc. Participants had to do three sets of 8-16 reps.
  • Combined resistance and aerobic (30/30):
    • Did 30 minutes of aerobic exercise working in moderate/intense heart rate zone. Used 9 resistance machines carrying out two sets of 8-16 reps.

What did they measure?

Each group carried out their required exercise plan for 12 months and their sleeping habits were tracked across this period. Researchers measured sleep duration, sleep quality, how long it takes to get to sleep, how settled your sleep is, and lots more! It’s worth mentioning that the feedback was recorded through questionnaires rather than real-time tracking.

What did the results show?

Firstly, and perhaps not surprisingly, all exercise groups showed an improvement in sleep quality over the study.

For just under half the participants who weren’t getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, those in the resistance group were able to increase their average sleep time by 17 minutes a night! This group also found that it took them three minutes less to fall asleep at night (sleep latency). All of the metrics for the other groups (including the aerobic exercise one) were lower than this.

A good night’s sleep can help your heart.

Lots of previous research has shown that not getting enough high-quality sleep can really impact our health. And this study shows that resistance exercise might be superior to aerobic when trying to promote better sleep patterns:

“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 ZZZ’s at night,”

So, if you could do with getting a better night’s snooze, then perhaps consider adding some resistance training into your workout routine and see if it works for you!

Source: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2022/03/03/resistance-exercise-may-improve-sleep-more-than-aerobic-exercise

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