Regular aerobic exercise improves the quality of sleep, mood and vitality, according to a new study.
The study is the first to examine the effect of aerobic exercise on middle-aged and older adults with a diagnosis of insomnia.
About 50 per cent of people in these age groups complain of chronic insomnia symptoms. The study is scheduled for publication in the journal Sleep Medicine.
The aerobic exercise trial resulted in the most dramatic improvement in patients` reported quality of sleep, including sleep duration, compared to any other non-pharmacological intervention, according to a Northwestern University release.
"This is relevant to a huge portion of the population," said Phyllis Zee, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Northwestern University and senior study author.
Kathryn Reid, research assistant professor at Northwestern, who led the research, says: "Insomnia increases with age," Zee said.
"Around middle age, sleep begins to change dramatically. It is essential that we identify behavioural 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."
The drug-free strategy also is desirable, because it eliminates the potential of a sleeping medication interacting with other drugs a person may be taking, Reid said.
Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, like nutrition and exercise, noted Zee, a professor of neurology, neurobiology, and physiology at the Northwestern University.