When sleepiness hits, the last thing we think to do is lie down— under a barbell, that is. Yet it turns out exercise won’t necessarily make those eyelids droop any lower. Studies suggest working out can actually boost energy and help prep for a better night’s sleepPhysical activity and feelings of energy and fatigue: epidemiological evidence. Puetz, T.W. Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA. Sports Medicine. 2006;36(9):767-80.Effects of exercise on sleep. Youngstedt, S.D. Department of Exercise Science, Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine 2005 Apr;24(2):355-65.. So the next time a wave of fatigue rolls in, consider ditching that 20-minute power nap or double espresso and try hitting the gym.
Photo by Marissa Angell
Running on Empty — The Need-to-Know
Ready for a sleepy statistic? About one in four people (excluding those with serious medical conditions) report feeling tired or fatigued well before bedtime hits. And while guzzling caffeine or fitting in a quick cat nap are common ways to battle tired eyes, the thought of working out may rarely cross our minds.
It’s important to remember that working out shouldn’t replace getting enough shut-eye. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, while excessive exercise can also work against us by increasing the risk of stress fractures, cardiovascular complications, or simply feeling burned outShort sleep duration and weight gain: a systematic review. Patel, S.R., Hu, F.B. Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Mar;16(3):643-5..
So don’t register for the Ironman just yet— while there’s a direct connection between physical activity and energy levels, research suggests intense exercise isn’t always the best way to feel more awake. So instead of going for the Olympic gold, hit the gym for a light aerobic workout. Take a leisurely bike ride or walk with a slight incline on the treadmill to feel that vigor in no time.
Have you found that hitting the gym can make you feel better? Tell your story in the comments below!