Struggling with your sleep? Running for 75 minutes a week will help, according to new research.
A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that exercising according to World Health guidelines could help prevent health risks associated with poor sleep, like heart disease, stroke or cancer.
Researchers from University College London and the University of Sydney studied 380,055 people, with an average age of 56, over 11 years. After following up, they found that those who engaged in at least 600 metabolic equivalent minutes (MET) of physical activity a week – equivalent to 75 minutes of running or 150 minutes of walking – 'eliminated most of the deleterious associations of poor sleep with mortality.'
Those who slept poorly and did low levels of exercise were 67% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 45% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, they found.
15,503 participants in the study died, including 9,064 from cancer and 4,095 from cardiovascular disease. Of these, 1932 died from coronary heart disease, 359 from haemorrhagic stroke, 450 from ischaemic stroke and 1595 from lung cancer. Those who died from Covid-19 were excluded from the results.
As well as physical activity, researchers identified other factors that tended to result in a participant having healthier sleep, including a vegetarian diet, being younger or thinner, facing less socio-economic deprivation or being employed in non-shift work.
WHO guidelines also call for muscle-strengthening activities and limits on the amount of time spent being sedentary. 'To help reduce the detrimental effects of high levels of sedentary behaviour on health, all adults and older adults should aim to do more than the recommended levels of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity,' the guidelines say.
In summary, the researchers said: 'Our results support the value of interventions to concurrently target PA and sleep to improve health.' However they added that further studies were needed to explore the topic further, so it's wise to get plenty of sleep to complement your exercise regime.
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