Physical Activity can Improve Sleep and Mental Health

Still not convinced you need to exercise? If you have trouble sleeping or are feeling depressed, listen up: Being more active has been associated with getting better sleep and improved mental health.

See Addressing Pain and Medical Problems Disrupting Sleep

Having trouble sleeping? Being more active may help. Back Exercise for Pain Relief

Chronic pain and sleeping

As we have discussed, people with chronic pain very often have problems sleeping. Even beyond a chronic pain population, 1/3 of the adult population in the United States experiences insomnia every year, and each year 50 to 70 million Americans experience some effects on their health from sleep disorders, sleep deprivation, and excessive daytime drowsiness.

Approximately 70 sleep disorders exist, the most studied of which are insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. Many neurological disorders are associated with poor sleep and poor sleep itself can have important health-related outcomes.

See Chronic Pain and Insomnia: Breaking the Cycle

A number of studies provide evidence that regular participation in physical activity (or exercise) is associated with reduced risk for disrupted or insufficient sleep, including sleep apnea. The evidence suggests that regular participation in physical activity has favorable effects on sleep quality and is a useful component of good sleep hygiene.

See Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene

Article continues below

Physical activity, exercise, and other aspects of mental health

Benefits of being physically active also extend to other aspects of mental health that contribute to overall quality of life, such as self-esteem and feelings of energy/fatigue.

See Specific Exercise Strategies

Enhanced self-esteem has significance for mental health because it conveys a feeling of value or self-worth and it is a generalized indicator of psychological adjustment and health risk. A majority of studies suggest that self-esteem is increased among adults when physical fitness is increased. Also, research suggests that larger gains in self-esteem can be expected for individuals with low initial levels.

Learn more: