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Strength training superior to cardio for getting better sleep

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Sport and fitness concept outdoors. Top view of pretty Caucasian blond sports woman in pink clothes, lying on the yoga mat and doing abs bicycle crunch workout at the red court.

By Joe Morgan via SWNS

Strength training is superior for getting better sleep than cardio, according to a new study.

Ab crunches, bicep curls and chest presses may lead to a stronger and healthier heart than going for a run, new research found.


While cardio is good for getting the blood pumping, training with weights or against the body's mass leads to better quality sleep.

Not getting enough sleep increases risks for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and fatty arteries, as well as weight gain and diabetes.

In the study, researchers enrolled nearly 400 overweight adults and had elevated blood pressure and were randomly assigned into a no-exercise group, an aerobic-only group, resistance only group or a combined aerobic and resistance group.

Everyone participated in supervised 60-minute sessions, three times a week.

More than a third of the participants had poor quality sleep at the beginning of the study.

Among the 42 percent of participants not getting at least seven hours of sleep at the study start, sleep duration increased by an average of 40 minutes for the resistance exercise group.

This was compared to an increase of about 23 minutes in the aerobic exercise group and about 17 minutes in the combined exercise group.

Also only in the resistance exercise group, the average time to fall asleep decreased by about three minutes.

Dr. Angelique Brellenthin, Assistant Professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University, said: "It is increasingly recognized that getting enough sleep, particularly high-quality sleep, is important for health including cardiovascular health.

"Unfortunately, more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis.

“Aerobic activity is often recommended to improve sleep, yet very little is known about the effects of resistance exercise versus aerobic exercise on sleep.

"Our study is one of the largest and longest exercise trials in a general adult population to directly compare the effects of different types of exercise on multiple sleep parameters.”

She added: “While both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for overall health, our results suggest that resistance exercises may be superior when it comes to getting better ZZZs at night.

“Resistance exercise significantly improved sleep duration and sleep efficiency, which are critical indicators of sleep quality that reflects how well a person falls asleep and stays asleep throughout the night.

"Therefore, if your sleep has gotten noticeably worse over the past two stressful years, consider incorporating two or more resistance exercise training sessions into your regular exercise routine to improve your general muscle and bone health, as well as your sleep.”

The research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology, Prevention, Lifestyle & Cardiometabolic Health Conference.

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