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Walk more, sleep better

Written by Diane Archer

Most people need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. With anxiety and stress levels high during this pandemic, getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult. There are many ways you might improve your sleep. One of them is to walk more, reports Gretchen Reynolds reports for The New York Times.

A variety of studies show the complex relationship between different types of exercise and sleep. It is not as simple as exercise leads to good sleep. In fact, people who work out strenuously might not sleep as well. Strenuous workouts could actually cause worse sleep.

A recent study, published in Sleep Health, of 59 middle-aged and older people who did not have time to exercise, links incidental physical activity, such as walking, to a good night’s sleep, even for people who do not exercise. Researchers at Brandeis University et al. examined the relationship between walking and sleep. They found a tight relationship.

Interestingly, walking more was not linked to length of sleep.

Here are the two biggest takeaways based on a month of walking:

  1. People said they slept better the more steps they had taken.
  2. The more minutes people spent walking, the better people said they slept.

After a day of walking, any day, people who had taken more steps than usual tended to say they slept better. The volunteers typically walked 7,000 steps a day. That’s somewhat more than three miles.

But, even volunteers who did not walk 7,000 steps a day found that more walking improved their sleep.

Of note, this is an observational study. It does not prove that walking more improves your sleep. It simply shows a relationship.

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