Sleep Deprivation And Gentle Reminders Have Opposite Effects On Fitness

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Two research reports of interest to officers concerned about health and fitness:

1. A study from the University of Chicago reveals that sleep deprivation may inhibit your ability to lose weight, even if you exercise and eat well.

The research shows that restricting sleep to just 4 hours per night—a familiar phenomenon to officers who work rotating shifts and/or extra jobs—can impact even healthy young adults to the point that some develop glucose and insulin characteristics of diabetics, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Inadequate sleep appears to lower the levels of an appetite-regulating hormone in the body (leptin), inducing more eating and weight gain.

2. A study at Stanford University finds that even small amounts of social support, like having a friend phone or email you encouraging reminders, may produce “large and lasting gains” in your commitment to get more exercise.

Researchers estimate that nearly all sedentary people at one time or another have resolved to maintain exercise programs, but failed.

Seeking improvement, Stanford scientists divided 218 volunteers into 3 groups. Some participants got called every 3 weeks for a year by a health educator who asked about their compliance with their exercise goals and to cheer them on with congratulations for any exercise performed. They were asked each time how their exercise level might be boosted in the days ahead and reminded of the importance of resuming their regimen when they lapsed.

Others got calls from a computer programmed to make similar inquiries. A control group got no calls.

After 12 months, the group that received human calls had increased their exercising nearly 80% from where they started. Those with computer contact had doubled their weekly level, while the control group showed only a 28% increase from where they began.

“Social support helps prevent against relapse,” explains Dr. Abby King, the professor medicine and health research and policy who conducted the study. “A light touch can have a lasting effect.”

Says one of the participants: “When you have to report back on what you’ve done, it motivates you.”

This is akin to the buddy system for adhering to a fitness program recommended by Dr. Michael Asken, a psychologist with the Pennsylvania State Police, in Force Science News Transmission #141, which can be accessed by clicking here.

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