Quality sleep and regular exercise are essential for living a long, healthy life and maintaining strong bones. But for some people, getting an adequate amount of quality sleep is difficult.
Fortunately, new research has discovered that exercise can counteract the potentially deadly effects of sleeping too much or too little.
In this article, we’ll look at the methodology and results of the study so that you can apply the findings to your healthy bone-building habits.
How Physical Activity And Sleep Duration Impact Longevity
A study published in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology examined data on 92,221 participants in the UK Biobank. Each participant spent one week between February 2013 and December 2015 wearing an accelerometer.1
The accelerometer measured both the duration and intensity of each participants physical activity and sleep.
The researchers categorized sleep duration into three groups: short, normal, and long. They divided physical activity (PA) into high, intermediate, and low levels. Then, they sorted physical activity intensity into two levels according to World Health Organization standards for moderate-to-vigorous PA.
Researchers compared the data on physical activity and sleep duration of each participant to their mortality outcomes over the subsequent seven years. This revealed how PA and sleep impacted the risk of death.
A study with 92,221 participants used accelerometers to gather data about each participant's physical activity (PA) level and sleep duration over the course of one week. Researchers compared the data to participants' mortality outcomes to observe how PA and sleep impacted the risk of death.
Regular Exercise Can Counteract The Mortality Risk Associated With Poor Sleep
The researchers observed that participants who failed to meet the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous PA each week were more likely to die of any cause.
They also recorded an increased risk of mortality among participants who got too much or too little sleep.
However, they found that participants who were not getting the appropriate amount of sleep did not have an elevated risk of death if they were meeting the recommendation for physical activity.
The study authors stated that their results, “revealed directly that the detrimental effect of short or long sleep could be fully eliminated by recommended level of MVPA (moderate-to-vigorous physical activity) or by a higher volume of PA at any intensity.”1
The study found that participants who got too little or too much sleep or did not meet the World Health Organization's exercise recommendation had a higher risk of death from any cause. However, the detrimental effect of over or under-sleeping could be fully eliminated by getting 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity or a longer duration of exercise of any intensity.
The Benefits Of Exercise Reduce The Harm Of Poor Sleep
The researchers proposed that the benefits of physical activity naturally counteract some of the negative effects of poor sleep. For example, inadequate sleep can cause inflammation, while exercise ultimately reduces inflammation.
Similarly, poor sleep increases the risk of heart disease by elevating blood pressure and inhibiting insulin resistance, but exercise regulates blood pressure and increases insulin sensitivity.
This finding underscores the importance of regular physical activity.
The study observed benefits from 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity or larger amounts of lower-intensity exercise. Moderate-to-vigorous activities would include running, weight training, or an aerobics class. Lower intensity exercises include walking, a gentle movement activity like tai-chi, or light yard work.
This study defined a “normal” amount of sleep as between 6 and 8 hours. If you're getting more or less sleep than that, you may be putting yourself at risk– unless you're meeting the exercise recommendation.
Optimal outcomes result from a healthy amount of sleep paired with robust regular physical activity. That's true both for longevity and for bone health. Exercise stimulates the generation of new bone material and the process of bone regeneration requires adequate sleep.
The researchers observed that many of the ill effects of over or under-sleeping correspond to the benefits of physical activity. The benefits of exercise can make up for the harms of poor sleep. Ideally, you get 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night and 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. Bone health also requires adequate sleep and exercise.
What This Means To You
While quality sleep is irreplaceable and vital for a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a regular physical activity routine can shield you from the adverse effects of a poor night’s sleep. Moreover, physical activity stimulates the generation of new bone, making exercise a pivotal component for bone health.
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