Walking May Help You Sleep Better, According to a New Study

published Nov 3, 2019
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We all know exercise is good for us, and the results of a newly published study are a reminder that a little goes a long way. Just one extra mile of walking per day can help you sleep better, according to the study published in the journal Sleep Health in October.

Over the course of one year, from 2015 to 2016, researchers tested 59 adults, who reported sleeping an average seven hours per night, in a series of four-week studies. All participants were given Fitbits and told to monitor their steps, but only half the group was told to walk 2,000 extra steps (about one mile) per day than usual. The other half did not receive special instructions about their activity level. All participants were asked daily questions about their sleep quality and quantity.

By the end of the study, researchers saw that an extra mile of walking per day seemed to positively impact participants’ quality of sleep, though not necessarily their amount of sleep. These results were also more significant among women, meaning that walking an extra mile per day seemed to benefit women’s sleep quality more than men’s. However, the test group skewed female (72%), so it’s possible that the study just gave researchers better information about women than about men.

Researchers knew going into the study that physical activity could lead to better sleep, but they were particularly interested in whether walking, as a low-impact activity, would have a noticeable positive effect. Not everyone is up for running or CrossFit, after all. 

While the study didn’t answer the question of why walking can improve quality of sleep, Psychology Today has a few theories: exercise has been found to reduce stress, walking outdoors in the sunlight can reinforce your circadian rhythm, and walking with friends can improve your mood. Sounds pretty good to us.