Being fit is not only good for feeling better, looking better and being in good health, but it is also good for solving sleep problems. If you are in good shape, you can fall asleep faster and you will also sleep deeper so you can rest better. How much do you need to exercise for an optimal night’s sleep?
What exercise is good for
If you exercise regularly, you will feel better about yourself: your body is healthier, you feel better and it extends your life. In addition, it gives you more energy and stamina. Exercising can even solve sleep problems in some cases. Regular exercise will help you fall asleep more easily and sleep more deeply. Even if you feel very tired after a few bad nights, it is better to get off the couch and move.
The influence of exercise on your body
If you are a poor sleeper, your heart rate and digestion and body temperature during sleep will be higher than those of a good sleeper. Exercising will make digestion work harder initially, but will decrease after a few hours. It then descends further than it would have done without the effort. This reduces the chance of waking up during the night because you sleep more deeply. Exercising also releases a chemical in your body that protects you against the harmful effects of stress.
How often do you exercise?
To have an effect, you must spend at least three hours a week exercising. It doesn’t have to be three times an hour, you can also split it into six times half an hour, or ten minutes three times a day. While aerobic exercise — anything that makes you pump harder — is best, weight lifting and stretching can also benefit your sleep.
Your own training schedule
Examine your own sleep in relation to exercise. You can keep a training diary in which you record all daily activities. This also includes doing errands by bike, gardening or walking the dog. Also keep track of how you slept the following night. This way you can find out which activities help you sleep better. Perhaps there is also a specific time when it is best to train. It is not wise to exercise intensively shortly before going to bed because your body needs three hours to cool down. A drop in body temperature is an impetus to fall asleep.
Forms of movement
To incorporate regular exercise into your lifestyle, it is important to do something you enjoy. Otherwise it will be very difficult to maintain and you may see it as a punishment. If you really don’t like running, don’t do it several times a week. Think of an alternative. Maybe you are more of a team player and enjoy the competitive element. If you prefer moving to music, you can go dancing. Maybe you are the right person to join a walking club. In short: find something that suits you and enjoy it.
Set yourself a goal
If you’re untrained, you shouldn’t expect to be able to run three miles straight away. If you set the bar too high, there is a good chance that you will quickly drop out or possibly get injured. Build up the activities gradually. If you want to go running, it is better to walk briskly for the first time, alternating with a few minutes of gentle jogging. The next time you can extend the jogging to five minutes and build it up. For some people it works better by changing the activities. Just running can get boring, and that’s one of the main reasons to quit. For example, you can run once a week, swim once a week and do aerobics once a week.
Movement in everyday life
This way you can also add extra exercise to daily life. Cycle to work instead of the car or take the stairs instead of the elevator. During your lunch break you can go for a nice walk or take an extra walk with the dog. If you live far from work and have to drive, you can park your car within a ten-minute walk of your work. All forms of exercise contribute to becoming fitter and therefore sleeping better.
Tips to make exercise easier
If you get bored easily while running, get some headphones and listen to some upbeat music. This will make you train longer and harder. Keep in mind that only after running many times will you start to see it as a habit. Your body needs two months to adjust to it. So give yourself the time to add exercise to your lifestyle.
If you do not want to use the exercise bike as a clothes rack, place a TV next to it. Watch your favorite shows or movies while cycling. You lose track of time and before you know it you have already covered miles. If you find sweating annoying, you can add a fan. Make yourself comfortable.
No time to train
Especially if you are busy with young children, it is difficult to add extra exercise to everyday life. You are probably already very busy with the children and you already get a lot of exercise. But if you want to exercise more, you can do some exercises in between. For example, you can run up and down the stairs, do a circuit in your living room with some abdominal exercises, run in place, push-ups, jump rope and do all kinds of other exercises. Make sure someone looks after your children so you can go to the gym, cycle or run. With older children you can go on a bike ride or take a long walk together.
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