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Sleep quality among Brazilian elderly practitioners and non-practitioners of physical exercise: a cross-sectional study


The process of human aging is accompanied by numerous physiological changes. Among them, we observe changes in both sleep quantity and quality. Regular physical exercise has been shown to improve sleep quantity and quality. Studies have shown that physically active subjects present better sleep quality when compared to sedentary or control participants.


We aimed to compare the sleep behavior between elderly practitioners and non-practitioners of physical exercise.


Two groups of older adults were described and compared in this non-random descriptive and comparative study: practitioners of physical exercises (PG) and non-practitioners of physical exercises (NPG). The PG group consisted of 122 older adults with a mean age of 69.1 (± 6.5) years, and the NPG group of 58 sedentary older adults aged 66.5 ± 4.4 years. The inclusion criteria were: aged 60 years or older; participants in the Floripa Ativa Program for at least six months; the presence of adequate scores in the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) according to educational level as described by Brucki et al. (2003); absence of any type of mental, endocrine or sleep-related disorder; no continuous use of medications for the treatment of mental, endocrine or sleep disorders; and no more than two consecutive absences during the program. We used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to assess subjective sleep quality. The MANCOVA-Test was utilized to verify differences between elderly practitioners and non-practitioners of physical exercises according to dimensions of sleep quality, controlling for sex and age.


The prevalence of poor sleep quality was 58.9% (95CI%:0.52-0.66). Comparison of different dimensions of sleep quality between PG and NPG showed that practitioners had better subjective sleep quality and sleep latency and fewer sleep disturbances and daytime dysfunction, regardless of sex and age. Furthermore, active elderly participants achieved a better global PSQI score (5.21±0.28 vs 7.08±0.41), demonstrating an effect of exercise on their sleep quality.


Although they do not sleep more, Brazilian elderly exercise practitioners have better sleep quality than elderly non-practitioners. Therefore, basic strategies with low-cost effects, as participation in a Community-based Physical Exercise Program, can be favorable in preventing and treat problems with relation the sleep among the elderly population.


Older adults. Physical activity. Sleep quality.


Área Básica


Giovana Zarpellon Mazo, Roges Ghidini Dias, Felipe Fank, Walan Robert da Silva, Tânia Rosane Bertoldo Benedetti, Fernando Luiz Cardoso