Another Reason to Lift Instead of Run Tonight

Dumbbell chest press
Justin Steele

On the fence about your post-work workout? You’ll sleep better if you lift instead of run, literally.

Researchers from Iowa State University found that people who did three 60-minute sessions of weekly resistance training increased the amount of sleep they were getting by twice the margin of those who did cardio workouts instead.

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“Critical bodily functions such as muscle repair, tissue growth, protein synthesis, and the release of other growth hormones occur predominantly during sleep,” explains Angelique Brellenthin, Ph.D., who presented her findings at an American Heart Association conference. “Since whole-body resistance training is a stressor that directly promotes skeletal muscle tissue adaptation and growth, it may also serve as a powerful stimulus for high-quality sleep in order to promote repair.”

That’s important because more than one in three guys gets less than the minimum seven hours of nightly sleep recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which can lead to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, and obesity.

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The good news: You don’t need to commit a ton of time to strength training to reap benefits when you lift instead of run.

“Previous research has shown that the health benefits of resistance exercise can be achieved with just a couple weekly sessions totaling less than one hour per week,” says Brellenthin. Exercisers in the study did a circuit including 12 different machines, but any strength exercise that engages the major muscle groups in your body counts. Here are two to try:

  • 12 reps x 3 sets of triceps dips, biceps curls, chest presses, lat pulldowns
  • 12 reps x 3 sets of sit ups, leg extensions, hamstring curls, squats

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