I've never been a solid sleeper, but my techniques to try and shut my brain off and hit the hay have rapidly changed as I've gotten older — back in the day, I needed absolute silence and darkness, and now I nod off faster with the television on at a low volume, which my husband has thankfully learned to adjust to. Since I'm always on the lookout for new, natural ways to get better shut-eye, it was pretty interesting to hear that while exercise obviously helps our joints and mood, exercise can help you sleep better, as well. Makes sense, right?
Obviously the type of exercise (as well as the time in which you decide to workout) are definitely linked to how well you sleep. The good thing is, you don't need to buy fancy equipment, or even join a gym, to partake in the one exercise that has been proven to affect sleep the most. As it turns out, simply taking a morning walk can help you sleep better at night.
Walking, you say? Yes, walking. Taking the dog for a stroll around the neighborhood will help you get some solid sleep, and you'll probably make your dog pretty happy as well. Walking has been linked in the "moderate aerobic" category as far as exercises go. According to Sleep Foundation, a study was done that showed that walking greatly helped reduce the time it took participants to fall asleep, and helped chronic insomniacs get more hours of rest than they would have otherwise.
Plus, it's a wonder workout for beginners who might feel too intimidated to go to a gym. Chances are, since free weights aren't involved, you don't even realize that you're working out when you're walking a distance. Who knew that better sleep could come so easily?
Vonda Wright, MD, posted a video on Huffington Post saying that for the exercise to have the best affect on sleep, it must be done at least three hours prior to your bedtime. She notes that morning walks are best, since it's been proven that a 7 a.m. walk will lead to a 75 percent increase in deep sleep. It's also easier to stick to the routine if you start in the morning.
Another benefit to walking is that, like most exercises, it'll help you relieve stress and anxiety. If you're the type of person who can't shut their brain off during the night, adding walking to your morning routine can put your wandering mind at ease.
Of course, sleep also influences exercise. So, walking and snoozing pretty much go hand in hand. A restful night recharges your body, and makes you more motivated to stick with your routine. Ever try exercising when you're exhausted? It's not an easy thing to do.
Next time you find yourself in the midst of a bad sleep pattern, consider lacing up your shoes and hitting the pavement. Even if you're not a morning person, you'll feel recharged by getting out and being active. Just a power walk around the block can really be beneficial to both your overall health, and your bedtime.
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