We know exercise is good for us. It improves heat health, blood pressure, builds bone and muscle, minimizes stress, and improves mood. But did you know exercise also helps to improve sleep? It does…while at the same time helping you to feel more energized, and awake during the day!
Timing is Everything
Generally, anytime you feel like exercising, you should go for it! When you want to make your workout help you to improve quality of sleep though, experts say it’s best to give yourself several hours between your workout and bedtime. Intense exercise right before bed raises body temperature, which makes it harder to fall asleep right away.
Studies show that to have the most direct effect on getting a good night’s sleep, you should get vigorous exercise late in the afternoon or early in the evening. Working out then increases your body temperature, and then allows it to gradually, over the next 4-5 hours, fall back down to normal; which sends a signal to your body and brain that it’s time to relax. Timing it in this way, means your body temperature will regulate just at the time you’re ready to head to bed anyway, and will help you to fall asleep faster, and get a deeper, more restorative sleep.
What kind of workout is best to help with sleep? A cardiovascular workout (like Zumba fitness!) that boosts your heart rate, and gets your muscles pumping for at least 20 minutes, has been shown to have the best effect on improving quality of sleep. Experts recommend aiming for a cardio workout three or four times a week.
Try to schedule at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three or four times a week, and make it something you like to do, so it doesn’t feel like a chore! You can also mix it up so you don’t get bored: brisk walking, swimming, jumping rope, dancing, and skiing are all good choices.