By Fitness Manager Matt Struemph
Exercise has many documented benefits to general health and well-being. One of these benefits is better sleep. The cumulative effect is that better sleep, of course, helps us feel better and be more productive during the day. Even though the idea of physical activity for better sleep is simple, there are some individual experiments that can be done to make exercise more effective for improving sleep.
Exercising at different times of the day is one self-test to try. Try scheduling exercise routines in the morning, mid-day, and evening and see which (if any) seems to help you relax and sleep better at bedtime. It is important to note that exercising near bedtime does not necessarily make for a restless night. The idea is to test different times to see what is more beneficial to you. Another factor is exercising indoors or outdoors. Being in natural sunlight has sleep promoting and anti-depressant effects. Try scheduling outdoor activity and see if that has a positive effect on any sleeping woes. For some of us, just finding the time…...any time….to exercise is a success. Remember that performing physical activity will only have a positive effect on sleep quality even if your schedule doesn’t allow for these self-tests.
When setting out to start an exercise routine, it is important to get the most out of the time spent exercising. One important factor is the amount of rest you get between exercise sessions and the rest taken during the exercise session. When planning a cardiovascular exercise routine, it is important to have a goal set for the amount of weekly activity. Cardiovascular activity is something that can be performed every day without losing its effectiveness. The key is to control the intensity as to not overwork muscles, joints, and other connective tissue that may result in overuse injuries. If the plan is to perform cardio activity every other day, more vigorous activity may be performed. Allowing a day of rest enables our bodies to physically and mentally rebound to attack the next session. For general health there is no ‘cookie cutter’ cardio routine that everyone should be doing. Allowing your body to be ready for the next exercise session by either controlling intensity or allowing for rest days is important to avoid burnout…...both mental and physical.
Rest as it pertains to strength training is more defined. There are many different ways to design a strength routine. No matter the goals or types of exercises being performed, the one constant is the amount of rest that should be taken. When designing a routine there should always be at least one full day (approximately 48 hours) of rest between performing exercises for one muscle or group of muscles. A simple example would be not performing a leg press exercise on consecutive days. When exercising to improve strength, the muscles must have that day of rest in order to perform at an optimal level during the next session. In addition to this, the proper amount of rest must be taken during a session. When performing multiple sets of one exercise, the goal is to completely fatigue the muscle group being exercised by the end of each set. If this is done, the muscle needs at least 2 minutes to allow for energy replenishment. Getting the most out of your time spent during one multiple set session of strength training is done by challenging the muscle to fatigue and then allowing rest time so that the muscle can be challenged properly again. When time is a factor, remember to move to a different exercise while allowing a particular muscle group to rest (Ex: Perform a set on a leg press then perform a chest press while the leg muscles are resting).
No matter how you slice it, your body needs rest to perform exercise well and your body will rest more effectively when regular physical activity is performed.