Sedentary Behaviors Keep Night Owls From Regular Exercise Routines
June 4, 2014

Sedentary Behaviors Keep Night Owls From Regular Exercise Routines

Lawrence LeBlond for - Your Universe Online

A recent study published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology found that persons who stay up all night are bigger risk takers than those who get a regular night’s sleep. While that research looked at the financial aspect of taking risks, it is likely that another risky move associated with night owls is not getting regular exercise.

A new study published in the journal Sleep, and to be presented June 4 in Minneapolis, Minnesota at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC, suggests that night owls are more sedentary and may have a harder time maintaining a regular exercise routine.

Led by Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD, associate professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, the study found that those who have later sleep times are likely to self-report more time sitting. As well, sleep timing remained a significant predictor of sedentary minutes after controlling for age and duration of sleep.

However, Baron and colleagues found that those who characterized themselves as night owls reported more time sitting and more perceived barriers to exercise, including not having enough time for exercise and being unable to stick to a regular exercise routine regardless of what time they actually went to sleep or woke up.

"We found that even among healthy, active individuals, sleep timing and circadian preference are related to activity patterns and attitudes toward physical activity," Glazer Baron said in a statement. "Waking up late and being an evening person were related to more time spent sitting, particularly on weekends and with difficulty making time to exercise."

For the study, the researchers examined 123 healthy adults who had self-reported sleep duration of at least 6.5 hours per night. The team measured sleep variables for seven days with wrist actigraphy and had each participant keep a sleep diary. The team also evaluated self-reporting of physical activity and attitudes toward exercise by using questionnaires, which included the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ).

"This was a highly active sample averaging 83 minutes of vigorous activity per week," said Glazer Baron. "Even among those who were able to exercise, waking up late made it and being an evening person made it perceived as more difficult."

For night owls, especially those who are less active, Glazer Baron noted that the study results suggest that circadian factors should be taken into consideration as part of exercise recommendations and interventions.

"Sleep timing should be taken into account when discussing exercise participation," she added. "We could expect that sleep timing would play even a larger role in a population that had more difficulty exercising."

The American Heart Association recommends that people get 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise – or a combination of both. Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember, says AHA. People will also experience benefits if they divide these workouts into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day.

The CDC also recommends that adults gets at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and participate in muscle-strengthening activities two or more days per week.

Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories.

This includes things like climbing stairs or playing sports. Aerobic exercises benefit the heart, and include walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility.