Health & Safety

February 15, 2013

Sleep your way to better fitness

56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Many people exercise well over what is required. Some people become addicted to running, lifting weights, CrossFit or playing their favorite sport.
Although it is great to put extra effort into being fit, it is also important to properly rest muscles and get enough sleep.

Overtraining is bad and can cause a lot of problems, said Marlyn Shults, 56th Aerospace Medicine Squadron exercise physiologist.

“If you experience a decline in performance, if your times are getting slower or you aren’t able to lift as much, you may be overtraining,” she said.
“Injuries and insomnia are other warning signs.”

The cure is rest, Shults said.

“Without sleep the workout means nothing,” she said. “Sleep has to be planned and is as important as the workout itself.”

So, just how much sleep do you need?

According to an article in Runner’s World, Deena Kastor, the bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympic Marathon in Athens, sleeps 10 to 12 hours a day, a regimen that includes a long nap in the early afternoon.

“It’s different for everyone,” Shults said. “The more intense the workout, the longer the recovery needs to be. And, naps in the afternoon can boost energy and help with recovery when working out more than once a day.”

After an intense work out, it is critical to at least rest the muscle groups worked, Shults said.

“The recommended amount of rest needed after an intense workout is 24 to 48 hours,” she said. “Sometimes people run into problems when they exercise every day and rotate muscle groups. You have to be really smart to do that. Some people accidently work out muscle groups they don’t intend to, she said. So, they think they are resting a particular muscle group when they really aren’t.”

Planning workouts and setting goals is also important, Shults said.

“A lot of people walk into the gym without a plan and randomly choose which exercise to do next,” she said. “Those are usually the people that work really hard and don’t see the results they want.”

As with anything, balance is the key, Shults said. Sleep, food, and exercising are all equally important in meeting goals, and improving overall fitness and health.




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