Physical activity may offset serious health effects of poor sleep, suggests a large long-term study. People with the poorest sleep and doing the least exercise are at risk of death from heart disease, stroke, and cancer.
New research shows that both physical inactivity and poor sleep is associated with an increased risk of death and/or cardiovascular disease and cancer.
For the study, the researchers tracked information provided by 380,055 middle-aged (average age 55) men and women taking part in the UK Biobank study.
The researchers studied information on their normal weekly physical activity levels, which were measured in Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) minutes. The metabolic equivalent for the task (MET) is a unit that estimates the amount of energy used by the body during physical activity.
To assess the risk of dying from any cause as well as from all types of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, all types of cancer, and lung cancer, the researchers tracked participants' health for an average of 11 years up to May 2020 or death.
During the monitoring period, 1932 people died from coronary heart disease, 359 from a brain bleed (haemorrhagic) stroke, 450 from a blood clot (ischaemic) stroke and 1595 from lung cancer.
The study concluded that lower levels of physical activity escalated the associations between poor sleep and all health outcomes.
"As emerging evidence supports a synergistic effect of sleep and physical activity on health outcomes, future trials concurrently targeting both behaviours are warranted," the researchers conclude.