It is a known fact that routine exercise results in an array of health benefits like strengthening the heart, lowering triglyceride levels, and reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Equally as important, physical activity can affect one’s sleep quality in a variety of ways. Endorphins, a natural chemical of the brain, are released when you exercise, causing the body to have an elevated mood and a positive feeling. This can help reduce the stress of an individual and allow for better sleep without the use of sleep medicine.
Exercising raises the core body temperature, and when it naturally declines, this decrease in body temperature can ease the body into a more relaxed state for sleep. Exercising can not only increase sleepiness and help you fall asleep easier but stay asleep for longer periods of time and get a better quality sleep. Because the body is in a more restful state, it is able to have a more restorative deep sleep.
Does The Time And Amount Of Exercise Matter?
Engaging in regular exercise routines of moderate levels for at least 30 minutes a day has been the general recommended goal. If a regular routine is kept, exercise can help maintain an individual’s intrinsic circadian rhythm. The benefits of exercising are not so much dependent upon the timing of exercise or the time of day. However, those who choose to exercise late in the day should keep in mind that this should be done at least 1- 2 hours before bedtime. For this reason, many people choose to exercise in the early morning. This is to avoid the wakeful effects that physical exercise brings about and to allow the body time to wind down and feel exhausted after exerting energy.
The saying “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing” can actually be applied to how frequently you exercise. Depending on the exercise regimen that is done (i.e., weight training, cardio, yoga), high-intensity activities will require a larger expenditure of energy and vice versa. The more effort that is put out, the more time the body will need to rest and recover. Exercising to the point of exhaustion on a frequent basis may affect your circadian rhythm and put it out of sync, which isn't good for overall wellness. Once you get into a regular exercise routine, it is important to understand your body’s limitations of how much it can handle. Resting is just as important as exercising, and finding a balance between the two is key to maintaining a regular exercise routine as well as the quality of life.
It may be difficult to go all out on a 7-day exercise routine right from the get-go, so start small with an accomplishable number of days. Once you get the hang of the routine, start adding more days or increasing the length of the workouts. This will help to build a foundation for maintaining a regular schedule. If you happen to skip a day during the week, just get back into the regular swing of things the next day. There is no need to double the time on a workout for a missed day. But most important is to listen to your body. If your body is feeling tired and burnt out from the week’s routine, it may be a sign that your body is deficient in recovery time. No matter what your workout schedule is like, you should not compromise the necessary rest or hours of sleep to fulfill the workout routine.
Does Stress And Anxiety Affect My Sleep?
Individuals who are constantly stressed or feeling anxious may notice that they are developing sleep problems, leading to an unending cycle of restless nights that may be difficult to break. Included in the effects of exercise is the release of endorphins from the brain, commonly compared to the “runner’s high,” and cause an increased sense of positivity. Exercise can help de-stress the mind and release negative emotions, leading to a more relaxed state when going to sleep. It is a healthy and effective method of handling stress and anxiety while also positively impacting one’s health.
Having a regular exercise schedule can improve mental health because although there are physical benefits to exercising, there are also mental health benefits as well. Sticking to a routine, allows an individual to feel like they are meeting daily goals and accomplishing a task they set for the day. Knowing that you are intentionally taking care of your body by exercising can boost your self-confidence and image as well. Exercising can also be thought of as holding your health to a higher standard and a way of self-betterment.
Finding Ways To Exercise
Typically, when people think about becoming exercisers, their minds automatically envision a gym and everything that comes with it (i.e., committing to a gym membership). Nowadays, exercising can be done anywhere, even at home. It is as simple as having a yoga mat or even finding various items around the house to use as make-shift weights. A spare room or basement can be turned into a home gym with the right equipment. Also, a variety of cardio machines are compact enough to fit into a home office. Exercising can be done both indoors and outdoors, depending on your preference.
There are a variety of outdoor activities that can help meet your exercising goals while also adding a fun twist to your daily routine. Biking can be a great method for cardio, and even more unique is riding a StreetStrider, which an outdoor elliptical bike. Picking up athletic hobbies such as rock climbing and boxing can also be an excellent way to increase strength training and improve athletic performance.
There are many who have a misconception that being able to lift heavy weights will help lose weight and sculpt their bodies to look like those of bodybuilders. While there is some truth in that statement, it is important to have a combination of aerobic and strength training exercises. Strength training from workouts that incorporate dumbbells, resistance bands, and even your own body weight will help build muscle and increase resting metabolism. While this is very beneficial, the muscle is built beneath fat that only aerobic exercises can help burn. Integrating cardio in your workout will utilize fat as energy and help burn it as an energy source.
The target heart rate for moderate aerobic exercise is between 60% and 75% of your maximum heart rate (bpm). This rate is dependent upon the individual’s age and can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220. Your heart rate can be measured by either feeling the pulse located at your wrist or neck. Place your index and middle fingers over the pulse and apply light and gentle pressure. Then, begin counting the number of pulses for 60 seconds or count the number of pulses for 30 seconds and multiply it by 2 to get the beats per minute.
Consistency is key when it comes to seeing the results you are aiming for, whether they are an improved sleep duration or physical improvements. Either way, it is important that you not give up and stay persistent with your efforts. The effects of exercising may not come right away, but if consistency is in your routine, the results are sure to come.
Exercise has proven to result in a vast array of benefits from improving quality of sleep, reducing anxiety and stress, and improving physical and mental health. Developing a habit of exercising a minimum of 30 minutes a day can boost your overall mood and lead to a more positive attitude. This has significant effects on those who are looking to reduce anxiety and stress that can lead to sleep deprivation. The endorphins produced from exercising helps the body feel more elated and releases the negative energy that has been carried in the mind all day. Through exercising, the mind will be more at ease when going to sleep, and the quality and duration of sleep will be improved, letting you get a good night's sleep.
It is important, however, that you are allowing the body to rest when necessary and not overwork your muscles either. Over-fatigue can cause the body’s circadian rhythm to be out of sync, which will not be beneficial to maintaining a regular sleep cycle. Therefore, know your limitations when developing a healthy exercise routine and do not forget to include rest days as well. Consistency is key in seeing the desired results of restful nights of sleep and increasing your physical strength. It is important to keep in mind that maintaining a regular exercise schedule is a long-term goal and is not a short-term goal that will produce major changes. Understanding that will help you to not become discouraged two weeks into the exercise routine, but it will keep you persistent in the long run.
Exercise routines come in a variety of forms, and it is important to have a balance between different types. For those who are looking to build muscle and burn fat, a combination of strength and aerobic workouts will help you achieve your goals. Not only can these workouts be done at the gym, but at home or even outdoors as well. Remember, workouts do not have to be structured but can be fun and enjoyable like kickboxing, yoga, and riding a StreetStrider.