If you’re among the statistically few older adults who exercise regularly, congratulations!
Keep it up.
But remember how important it is to get enough sleep, as well, in order to gain the most health benefits from your physical activity.
That’s the message in a new study from Britain funded by both the UK and US governments. It tracked almost 9,000 adults for more than a decade.
“Our study suggests that getting sufficient sleep may be required for us to get the full cognitive benefits of physical activity,” said Dr. Mikaela Bloomberg at University College London. “It shows how important it is to consider sleep and physical activity together when thinking about cognitive health.”
The study found that people with higher levels of activity who also slept between six and eight hours a night had better cognitive function as they matured.
But researchers also discovered that, after 10 years, the highly active people over 50 who slept on average less than six hours a night lost the advantage that exercise provided. They declined faster and had the same cognitive levels as those who didn’t exercise.
“We were surprised that regular physical activity may not always be sufficient to counter the long-term effects of lack of sleep on cognitive health,” Bloomberg said.
We find that regular exercise generally improves sleep. But if you’re struggling with sleep, be sure to talk to your doctor. And… keep moving! You need both regular rest and regular exercise to age optimally.