7-Day Sleep Challenge: Quick Cardio Workout for Better Sleep

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Exercising during the day can set you up for a more restful night. Here’s an easy sequence you can build into your afternoon.

Keep up with the 7-Day Sleep Challenge here.

Although taking on a vigorous workout right before you go to bed isn’t advisable, especially in the hour right before sleep, according to research — more intense exercise earlier in the day can actually be a boon for sleep quality.

One research review looking at 29 studies on the connection between sleep and exercise found a strong interrelationship between sleep quality and daytime exercise. The results were especially robust for middle-aged and older adults: When your sleep suffers, you have less energy to exercise, and being sedentary then leads to sleep difficulties.

That’s why breaking that cycle is so crucial. Doing a quick cardio workout during the day can help reset your circadian rhythm and make it easier for your body to release melatonin, studies suggest. That can lead to improvements in falling asleep, staying asleep, and overall sleep quality. So you don’t just sleep longer, you sleep better. Plus, you’ll reap the many health benefits for other age-related issues like brain health, cardiovascular function, and longevity.

Experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine report that aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you get. That’s the deep sleep where your brain and body do necessary repairs. And it doesn’t take much sweating: Engaging in just 30 minutes of activity often results in better sleep that same night.

“It’s a two-way street: The more you exercise, the better you sleep,” says senior fitness expert Larysa DiDio. “The better you sleep, the more you want to exercise.”

How to Use the Quick Cardio Workout for Better Sleep

Looking for a quick workout that can help you get the benefits of movement and ease you into sleep when you’re ready? DiDio has the moves you need, so check out this easy sequence for a cardio boost anytime during the day.

To get started, you’ll only need yourself and some open floor space. Just make sure you press play on this workout at least an hour or two before you plan on going to sleep, she says. “Your body needs that time to calm down and prepare for rest.”

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

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Ready for More Cardio? Three SilverSneakers Classes to Try 

Many SilverSneakers classes include cardio segments, but there are a few devoted to building cardiovascular strength. At your participating SilverSneakers fitness location, you can pop into a SilverSneakers Circuit class, which alternates between low-impact cardio and upper-body strength. Zumba Gold dance classes are another fun way to get your heart rate up. (Review the gym’s schedule for exact times).

Or sign up for the SilverSneakers LIVE Cardio Mix — a 45-minute low impact class that includes progressive intensity options. See the latest schedule and RSVP for classes here. No matter which class you try, you’ll get a great workout.

Keep up with the 7-Day Sleep Challenge here.

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