Regular exercise may improve quality of sleep


Exercise now, sleep better tonight: A study finds that 150 minutes of exercise a week significantly improves sleep quality.

About 3,000 adults age 18 to 85 wore an accelerometer for a week so researchers could determine just how much physical activity they were getting. Accelerometers not only measure movement but the intensity of that movement as well, making them a more comprehensive gauge of movement than a device such as a pedometer.

Getting 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise paid off in a 65% improvement in quality of sleep. Participants who were more active had significant improvements in feeling alert during the day and had fewer leg cramps compared with people who did not meet the 150-minute standard. The frequent exercisers also had an easier time concentrating when they were tired.


The average number of hours slept did not differ much between those who met the exercise standards and those who didn’t. However, the exercisers fell asleep on average three minutes faster.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise per week to improve health.

“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,” said co-author Brad Cardinal of Oregon State University in a news release. “Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep.”

The study was released online in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity.