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Physical Activity can Help Curb the Death Risks from Poor Sleep Quality

Physical Activity can Help Curb the Death Risks from Poor Sleep Quality

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  • People who were younger and had a healthy diet reported high levels of physical activity and good quality of sleep
  • 'Physically-inactive and Sleep-deprived' had a 57% higher death risk from all causes
  • Risk of cancer-related deaths was also 45% higher in this group

Physical activities in higher levels could prevent you from the detrimental effects of poor sleep, reveals a new study. Previous evidence has found that physical inactivity and sleep deprivation are associated with high mortality risks in adults. The current research explored their combined effects on several common causes of mortality like cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Analysis through a Large Long-term Observation

The researchers aimed to investigate the associations of physical activity and sleep quality with all-cause and some cause-specific mortality. They used the data collected from the UK Biobank study. This observational study enrolled more than half a million UK adults from the age group 37-73 and monitored their health status between 2006 and 2010.


The World Health Organization recommends physical activity based on age and lifestyle. Based on these recommendations and Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) minutes, a unit to measure the levels of physical exercise performed by a person, the team categorized physical activity levels as:
  • High: 1200 or more MET minutes/week
  • Medium: 600 to less than 1200 MET minutes/week
  • Low: 1 to less than 600
  • No moderate to vigorous physical activity: Very little/no physical activity
They also classified the sleep quality of participants into three types: healthy (4+); intermediate (2-3); or poor (0-1) based on the chronotype (individual's tendency to sleep at specific times during a day), duration of sleep, insomnia, and snoring.

Of the 380,055 individuals, 56% had a healthy sleep pattern, 42% had an intermediate sleep quality, while the remaining people showed poor quality sleep. People who spent less day sitting, had more healthy fruits and vegetables, were younger, didn't work late nights, reported high physical activity levels, and good quality of sleep.

Does the 'Physically-inactive and Sleep-deprived' Combo Have a High Risk of Mortality?

On tracking the health status of the subjects further up to May 2020, the team sought to assess the risk of mortality among them. They found that 15,503 died throughout the monitoring period. Of these, 4095 deaths resulted from cardiovascular diseases, whereas 9064 died from cancer. While considering cause-specific mortalities, there were 1932 deaths from coronary heart disease, 359 deaths from hemorrhagic stroke, and 450 deaths from ischemic stroke.

People who were 'Physically-inactive and Sleep-deprived' had a 57% higher risk of death from any cause than the people who were 'Physically active with healthy sleep quality. They also showed a 67% greater risk of death from heart diseases and a 45% higher risk of death from cancers.

"Physical activity levels at or above the WHO guideline (600 metabolic equivalent task mins/week) threshold eliminated most of the deleterious associations of poor sleep with mortality," said the researchers.

As the study findings are dependent on self-reported data about sleep patterns and physical activity, the team also emphasized: "As emerging evidence supports a synergistic effect of sleep and physical activity on health outcomes, future trials concurrently targeting both behaviors are warranted."

Five Ways to Improve Your Physical Activity

  • Reduce driving and choose walking whenever possible
  • Take stairs instead of elevators
  • Involve in your favorite outdoor games
  • Kick-off your day with some exercises
  • Join a fitness club and enjoy exercising with your friends

References :
  1. Huang B, Duncan MJ, Cistulli PA, et al Sleep and physical activity in relation to all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality risk: British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 29 June 2021. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2021-104046
  2. Physical activity - (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity)

Source: Medindia

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