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Exercise ‘improves sleep quality’ in older women

Exercise in postmenopausal women can significantly improve their sleep quality, say US researchers.

Their study looked at 437 postmenopausal, sedentary women, who were overweight or obese and had normal to mildly elevated resting blood pressure.

The women were randomised to three exercise groups or a control group, which did not exercise.

The exercise consisted of three to four sessions per week for six months, alternating between a cycle ergometer or treadmill, and their sleep quality was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Sleep Scale.

When compared with controls, the exercise groups experienced significantly reduced likelihood of sleep disturbance, with a difference in sleep quality scores of 2.09 in the control group and 3.93 to 6.22 in the exercise groups, depending on the intensity of the exercise.

The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh concluded: ‘The greatly reduced odds of sleep disturbance is noteworthy, since sleep complaints are prevalent in postmenopausal women and current treatment options have often been found to be only mildly efficacious at improving sleep quality.'

BMJ Open2012, online 12 July

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