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Which Is Better: More Sleep or More Exercise?

Busy schedules often make sleep and exercise—both essential for good health—rivals for your time. And each morning when the alarm goes off, you’re faced with the same dilemma: hit the snooze button or hit the gym. How do you know which is a better choice? The Huffington Post reported on research that addresses this age-old question:

  • When it comes to replacing sedentary time (think TV watching) with either sleep or exercise, findings from a 2013 study suggested that exercise wins. Specifically, the study found that replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise was associated with more markers of good cardiovascular health than replacing the same amount of sedentary time with sleep. Exercisers experienced a 2.4% reduction in waist circumference, a 4.4% rise in HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels, an 8.5% reduction in triglyceride levels, a 1.7% reduction in blood sugar levels, and a 10.7% reduction in insulin levels.
  • Another study, from 2015, gave one more point to exercise: researchers found that, for people who were already sleeping more than seven hours per night, replacing one hour of exercise with any other activity was associated with an increase in the risk of death from any cause. In particular, replacing that hour of exercise with sleep caused mortality risk to increase by 17% in people who were healthy at the beginning of the study.
  • However, another 2013 study gave a nod to sleep. The study found that, in people with insomnia, getting more sleep resulted in more time spent exercising the following day. Interestingly, the inverse was not true: getting more exercise did not result in participants getting more sleep that night.

Based on this research, it seems that exercise should generally take precedence over sleep, but of course, the best way to stay healthy is to get plenty of both. So, when the alarm sounds—and you slept the recommended 6 to 8 hours—you should probably get out of bed and go for that morning run.

Source: Huffington Post

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