Best exercise for sleep revealed—and it's not running!

The best exercise for sleep has been revealed as research finds unexpected link between activity with a multitude of key health benefits

Best exercise for sleep—Gym equipment for fitness exercise in room - stock photoGym equipment for fitness exercise in room - stock photo
(Image credit: Geerati/Getty Images)

The best exercise for sleep has been revealed after research into improving sleep quality looked into the difference between physically inactive and active sleepers.

As many wonder how to fall asleep fast, research into natural cures for insomnia are increasing year on year. Anybody who's dabbled in fitness knows that it has a myriad of benefits, and is connected to aiding in any number of health and wellbeing concerns—including sleep.

New research, presented at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health conference, looked at how different types of exercises aid sleep.

It turns out that of all the fitness types, resistance training is the one to help make your bedtime routine an absolute breeze.


The study saw 406 inactive adults, divided into four groups, undertake a monitored exercise plan for a year. Some did aerobic exercise (bikes, treadmill, or ellipticals), some did resistance exercises (weightlifting), others did a combination of the above and a control group remained sedentary.

Those doing resistance exercise, but none of the others, were able to extend their average sleep time by 17 minutes per night. This could improve and even save many lives, owing to the health implications of not getting how much sleep you need.

Woman exercising with weights at home

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Established research shows that insufficient sleep is associated with high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. As well as this, regular short sleep (less than 7 hours) has been found to increase the risk of cardiovascular events. So, it's well worth your time learning how to sleep better.

This project is one of the largest and longest-running sleep-exercise trials ever designed. Author Angelique Brellenthin said, "While both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for overall health, our results suggest that resistance exercises may be superior when it comes to getting better ZZZ's at night." 

With yet another reason why strength training is so important for women maybe it's time to get your head around the best resistance band workouts —your health will thank you for it!

Aoife Hanna
Aoife Hanna

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.