The Power of a Daily Walk: How Women Can Improve Their Sleep One Step at a Time

April 24, 2023

Valerie Cacho MD

Are you struggling with poor sleep quality and looking for a natural solution? Look no further than walking! This basic movement that most already regularly do can work wonders for your physical health. Better yet, walking requires no expensive gym membership or fancy workout equipment.

According to an article by Harvard Health, walking can help keep your weight in check, reduce sugar cravings, and event lower your risk of breast cancer. Additionally, it can protect and strengthen joints as well as boost your immune system. Who knew something so easy as a daily walk could be so healthy?

Did you know that walking can improve your sleep quality?

Researchers in Iran performed a randomized control trial lasting12-weeks on postmenopausal women to discover if increasing the length they walked would affect their sleep quality. During the study, women in the intervention group were asked to measure how many steps they took by wearing a pedometer. At the end of each month the women were asked to rate their sleep quality on a questionnaire that included the following parameters: how long it took them to fall asleep, their overall sleep time, if they experienced sleep disturbances, use of sleeping pills, and daytime dysfunction.

The results were surprising – by increasing their walking distance by 500 steps a week to a goal of 10,000 steps a day by the end of the 12 weeks, women saw improvements in all these parameters compared to the women who didn’t change their walking habits. But here’s the juicy part: the women in the study who walked more used fewer sleeping pills likely because their sleep quality was so much better after all that walking.

Another study lasting 4 weeks examined the benefits of walking on sleep in the Boston area. Most of the study participants in this study were adult women. Researchers discovered the women who were more active, as recorded by their Fitbit data, reported better sleep quality as comparted to the women who took less steps over the past month. On days when the participants took more steps, they slept longer than their typical amount. 

Why is walking so beneficial for sleep health?

  • Walking is low-impact exercise that doesn’t cause excess strain on the body. It can make is tired but not overly drained and sore like a high intensity work out.
  • Moving our body releases happy hormones aka endorphins which can lower stress and anxiety resulting in better sleep.
  • Walking outdoors in the morning and evening can help keep our circadian rhythm in sync by regulating our bedtime and wake up times.

Are you ready to start walking more regularly? Begin by investing in comfortable shoes and if you don’t already have a pair. Consider purchasing a pedometer to track your steps, most smart watches have built in pedometers and sleep trackers. You can use this data to motivate you to hit your daily walking and sleep goals. Creating a reasonable walking plan that fits within your fitness level and schedule is best. Even a walk around the block can be beneficial. Once you find your stride, you’ll notice your legs getting stronger and as you build up your endurance, shoot for walking 10,000 steps a day. Your body (and your sleep) will thank you for it!

Related articles: 6 Steps to Creating a Sustainable Exercise Plan and Women’s Sleep and Heart Health: Why Prioritizing Sleep is Important.

  1. Deb says:

    Thank you! It’s the middle of the night as I write this comment. I will definitely strive to walk 10,000 steps over the next 12 weeks.

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