What is the best time to exercise? If you can accommodate it – even if it’s about to go to bed. You may have heard that nighttime exercise can make it difficult to fall asleep, but that claim is not true: According to the National Sleep Foundation, a study of 1,000 people found that there were no significant differences in sleep quality between people who fell asleep within four hours falling asleep trained compared to those who had trained earlier in the day.
Regardless of the time of day you exercise, you will likely sleep better: In the National Sleep Foundation study, 83 percent of “vigorous exercisers” had “very good” or “fairly good” sleep quality, compared with just 56 percent of non-trainers surveyed . And exercising before bed could improve your quality of sleep even further: In a review of 23 different studies published in Sports Medicine, people who exercised within four hours of bedtime had more hours of deep sleep than those who did those workouts did not do. says RunnersWorld.com.
Getting a good night’s sleep is big on your early death risk, disease risk, and weight loss efforts as well. When you sleep less, you eat more … and not good quality, nutritious foods. A study published in Clinical Nutritional and Metabolism Care found that people who got less than seven hours of sleep increased their daily caloric intake by 14 percent, with most of those extra calories coming from high-carb foods.
Burn more calories with a bedtime workout and sleep better to control your appetite. Our fitness experts at The Leaf designed this quick bedtime exercise to aid you on your journey to wellness and weight loss! Remember to take an hour off after doing the exercise. This will help your body cool down and prepare for sleep – just like after a warm bath.
Start with some weight training.
Strength training any time of the day improves your sleep. However, doing strength training before bed can help you sleep more soundly and wake up less often at night. Of course, it can help with your weight loss goals as well: According to The Harvard Gazette, scientists found that men who did 20 minutes of “daily strength training” had less age-related belly fat gains than those who did the same amount of cardio work.
This bedtime workout is less intense so you don’t get too excited – or too sweaty – in the hours leading up to bed. Do all the sets of each exercise before moving on to the next exercise. Rest a minute between each exercise and each set.
Exercise 1: squats to the chair (or bed)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with your toes pointing slightly out of parallel. Push your hips back to initiate the squat and control your descent as you bend your knees to descend until you are seated in the chair. Keep your chest up and weight on your heels as you descend. With the weight of your body in your heels, push yourself back into a standing position without your hands. If this is too difficult, just do the lowering part of the squat – while sitting – then use your hands to get back up and repeat. Do four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the repetitions.
Exercise 2: Elevated push-ups
Place your hands on the seat of the chair or on the fourth step of a flight of stairs. Take the classic push-up position: arms perpendicular to the upper body, your body in a straight line from head to heels. Bend your elbows to maintain that rigid body line to lower your chest towards the seat. To protect your shoulders from pain and injury, keep your elbows relatively close to your sides instead of spreading them out at a 90-degree angle. Press back to begin. If this is too difficult, try a wall push-up instead. Do four sets of four or more repetitions each.
Exercise 3: gluteal bridge in the supine position
Lie face up on a mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your arms by your sides, palms up. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, squeeze your glutes to forcefully lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. As you lift, keep your knees and thighs parallel – don’t let them contract. This will strain your hip muscles. At the top of the exercise, pause for a second, then slowly return to the starting position. Do not let your heels off the floor when you stand up. Do four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the number of repetitions in each set.
Exercise 4: gluing the wall
Stand with your face away from a wall with your feet about six inches from the wall. Your head, upper back, and buttocks should all be in contact with the wall – and they should stay in contact throughout the exercise. Place your arms straight up, with the backs of your hands, elbows, and forearms in contact with the wall. Now slide your arms down the wall by bending your elbows and keeping your hands, forearms, and shoulders in contact with the wall. Keep lowering until your elbows are as close to your sides as possible. (You should feel a strong contraction between your shoulder blades.) Take a break, then slide your arms back up the wall until your arms are above your head. Do four sets of five repetitions each. Over time, try to increase the number of repetitions in each set, and aim for eight.
Finish with some soothing stretches in bed.
When people with insomnia do yoga, they are more likely to fall asleep faster and sleep longer, says the National Sleep Foundation. Soothe your own body with this six pack of regenerating stretching exercises after your strength training and accompany you on the way to dreamland. Sit on the edge of the bed for the first three stretches and then lie on the edge of the bed for the last three.
Stretch 1: Circle your ankles
Sit on the edge of the bed with both feet on the floor. Lift one foot off the floor and circle your ankle 10 to 15 times in each direction. Repeat with the other foot.
Stretch 2: lift your heels
Put both feet back on the floor. Press both balls of your feet into the ground and lift your heels off the ground, straightening your metatarsus. Perform 10 to 15 lifts.
Stretch 3: Stretch your side
Sit up straight. Place your right hand on the bed next to your side and raise your left arm towards the ceiling. Arch your left arm up and over your head until you feel a slight stretch in your side. Reverse the movement to the starting position. Repeat six to eight times per side.
Stretch 4: Rock your knees on your chest
Lie on your back on the bed. Bring your knees to your chest and grab your legs just below your knees. Rock gently back and forth a few times.
Stretch 5: single knee to chest
Stretch your legs while still on your back. Now bring only one knee to your chest while the other remains stretched out on the bed. Pull the raised knee towards your chest, then switch legs. Hug each knee three times.
Stretch 6: arm circles while lying down
Keep your legs straight again on the bed. Spread your arms out so that your body forms a “T” shape. Keeping your arms straight, do 10 arm circles forward and then 10 backward. Repeat one more time.
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* Always talk to your doctor before starting any exercise routine.