Keep up to date with news from sports science and nutrition – and it’s easy to keep up with everything by reading our summaries of the most relevant recent studies. Whether it’s diets and nutrition, or finding new ways to challenge your body during training, we have the most interesting and instructive news.
This week, we’ll see if your sleep schedule can affect your activity levels and the causes of stress fractures in runners.
Let’s do this …
Does having nighttime habits lower your activity levels?
We have all heard that “bedtime early and early to rise” is a good idea, but do the early risers actually have some kind of advantage over night owls, in terms of their activity levels? According to this new study, there may well be a significant difference. 1
A group of researchers observed the differences in activity levels of more than 5,000 participants in relation to their chronotypes (whether they were early risers or night owls), and came to some interesting conclusions.
Participants completed a questionnaire about their sleep patterns and used a fitness tracker for two weeks to measure their levels of physical activity.
It was found that the group of early risers, both in the case of men and women, had higher levels of activity than night owls. This effect was observed even when other factors were taken into account and eliminated, such as the type of employment, health and socioeconomic status.
The difference is equivalent to an additional 20 or 30 minutes of walking per day for people who wake up early in the morning – a difference that becomes quite significant over time.
Do you feel that your chronotype has a great influence on your behavior? If you maintain night habits but would like to increase your activity levels, this can be something to take into account!
Are you at risk of a stress fracture?
With the unprecedented number of people dedicating themselves to the race that took place during the confinement, it is inevitable that some injuries will happen – most of which, hopefully, very slight. But one type of injury that does not fall into the “mild” category is a stress fracture, a condition that affects 20% of all runners, being more common in women.
Most studies have analyzed stress fractures in elite athletes, so this study is particularly interesting, as it focuses on ordinary people, focusing on the typical female runner. 2
The researchers looked at 40 runners aged 18 to 65 – 20 who had already suffered a stress fracture and 20 others who had not – in order to compare the physiological differences.
They found some significant differences between groups. Women who had already experienced a fracture of this type had an increased probability of low mineral density in the hip bone, of describing changes to the menstrual cycle as a result of training and of a higher bone remodeling, according to the results.
They also found a behavioral difference between the two groups. 3 Women who had increased their physical training load more suddenly and who reported not providing support for their running regime with adequate nutrition or cross-training had an increased risk of stress fractures.
Women with a history of stress fractures have also been found to have a greater propensity to resist pain and continue to run despite feelings of discomfort.
What are the implications of this for your training? It seems that, as with any other form of training, a good diet and a progressive increase in intensity can make a huge difference in preventing injuries.
Whether you lean more towards waking up early or walking all night, being aware of the influence this can have on your activity levels can help you put in place changes that will help you achieve a lifestyle more balanced.
If you started running during confinement, don’t let the results we describe make you lose motivation! All types of training carry risks, but if you increase your training load progressively and make sure your body is well nourished, you are taking the right steps to reduce that risk.