Aus­tralian sci­en­tists from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Syd­ney and the Uni­ver­si­ty of New­cas­tle believe that a high lev­el of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty com­pen­sates for the neg­a­tive health effects asso­ci­at­ed with sleep dis­or­ders.

The researchers ana­lyzed UK Biobank data on 380,000 men and women, with an aver­age age of 55. Par­tic­i­pants’ health was tracked for 11 years until May 2020. Dur­ing this time, 15.5 thou­sand peo­ple died, with 4.1 thou­sand from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, and 9.1 thou­sand from can­cer.

Week­ly phys­i­cal activ­i­ty data was mea­sured using MET-min­utes. MET is the meta­bol­ic equiv­a­lent, which is cal­cu­lat­ed as the ratio of the meta­bol­ic rate dur­ing phys­i­cal activ­i­ty to the rest­ing meta­bol­ic rate. A MET minute is equiv­a­lent to the num­ber of calo­ries burned per minute of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. For exam­ple, 600 MET-min­utes per week is equiv­a­lent to 150 min­utes of mod­er­ate-inten­si­ty phys­i­cal activ­i­ty or 75 min­utes of vig­or­ous-inten­si­ty phys­i­cal activ­i­ty week­ly. As part of the study, sci­en­tists divid­ed project par­tic­i­pants into three groups: high phys­i­cal activ­i­ty (1200 or more MET-min­utes per week), mod­er­ate (600‑1200) and low (from 1 to 600).

The qual­i­ty of sleep of the sub­jects was assessed on a scale from 0 to 5, based on divi­sion into chrono­types and exist­ing sleep dis­or­ders (insom­nia, snor­ing, day­time sleepi­ness).

The worse a per­son slept, the high­er his car­dio risks, that is, the like­li­hood of dying from any cause and from any car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. How­ev­er, the risks for poor sleep­ers var­ied sig­nif­i­cant­ly depend­ing on how phys­i­cal­ly active they were.

At one end of the scale were peo­ple with poor sleep and low phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. They were 67% more like­ly to die from heart and vas­cu­lar dis­ease, 45% more like­ly to die from any type of can­cer, and 91% more like­ly to die from lung can­cer in par­tic­u­lar.

At the same time, peo­ple who had poor sleep but were phys­i­cal­ly active at or above 600 MET-min­utes per week suc­cess­ful­ly off­set most of the neg­a­tive effects of poor sleep lead­ing to increased mor­tal­i­ty.

The health­i­est sleep and low­est risks were observed among younger par­tic­i­pants, women, peo­ple with a low body mass index, veg­etable and fruit eaters, active, non-smok­ers and non-drinkers, who also did not work shifts and had reg­u­lar­ly high lev­els of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. .


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