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Run to catch your Zs


Millions of older adults suffer from insomnia. I know from personal experience. Now, a small but very important study has identified aerobic exercise as a sleep aid for middle aged and even older grown ups. Exercise improves the quality of sleep, mood and vitality for those who do it regularly.

The new study from Northwestern Medicine is the first to examine what effect aerobic exercise has on chronic insomnia. The test subjects reported dramatic improvement in quality of sleep and duration of sleep when compared to those who took a pharmaceutical aid.

“It’s relevant to a huge portion of the population,” said Phyllis Zee, MD, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Medicine and senior author of the paper. “Insomnia increases with age,” Zee said. “At around middle age, sleep begins to change dramatically. It is essential that we identify behavioral ways to improve sleep. Now we have promising results showing aerobic exercise is a simple strategy to help people sleep better and feel more vigorous.”

Being drug free is incredibly important as people age and take more prescription drugs for various ailments associated with aging. Drug combining is best avoided when possible.

“By improving a person’s sleep you can improve their physical and mental health,” Zee said. “Sleep is a barometer of health, like someone’s temperature. It should be the fifth vital sign. If a person says he or she isn’t sleeping well, we know they re more likely to be in poor health with problems managing their hypertension or diabetes.”

The aerobic activity they tested was two twenty minute aerobic sessions four times a week or one 30 to 40 minute session four times a week. The program went on for sixteen weeks. They walked or used a stationary bike or treadmill.

I’m tired just thinking about it.

Source: Northwestern Medicine, ScienceDaily


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