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Moderate Weekly Exercise Linked With Better Sleep Quality: Study

Exercise Sleep Quality

The Huffington Post   Posted: 11/28/11 11:45 AM ET

Getting your recommended weekly dose of exercise could do more than make you stronger and boost your heart health. A new study shows it can have benefits on your snooze quality, too.

The study, published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, found that people who exercised at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 150 minutes a week had a 65 percent better sleep quality than people who exercised less.

The exercisers also felt less tired throughout the day and had fewer leg cramps while sleeping, researchers found.

"We were using the physical activity guidelines set forth for cardiovascular health, but it appears that those guidelines might have a spillover effect to other areas of health," study researcher Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise science at Oregon State University, said in a statement. "Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep."

The study included health data from more than 3,000 men and women between ages 18 and 85 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They wore an accelerometer on their right hip for a week after they were examined, and they were questioned on their sleepiness and quality of sleep.

For more on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendations on physical activity for adults, click here.

Poor sleep quality has, in past research, been linked to increased inflammation (which can lead to heart disease and stroke), high blood pressure, and increased blood glucose levels and insulin resistance among people with Type 2 diabetes.

Check out these things that could be negatively affecting the quality of your sleep, according to research and Dr. Michael Decker Ph.D., a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine:

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Loneliness isn't just an issue of the heart and mind -- it's also an issue of sleep, a new study shows.

The small study of 95 adults in South Dakota shows that people who perceived themselves as lonely had more fragmented sleep (which affects sleep quality, but not total sleep amount) than people who didn't think they were lonely. The findings mirror a 2002 study that showed that college students who felt lonely also had more fragmented sleep.

"Whether you're a young student at a major university or an older adult living in a rural community, we may all be dependent on feeling secure in our social environment in order to sleep soundly," study researcher Lianne Kurina, Ph.D., said in a statement. "The results from these studies could further our understanding of how social and psychological factors 'get under the skin' and affect health."