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J Rural Health. 2013 Jun;29(3):239-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2012.00447.x. Epub 2012 Nov 20.

Association between physical activity and insomnia symptoms in rural communities of southeastern Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

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Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri 63104, USA.



The purpose of this study is to examine whether physical activity is associated with less insomnia symptoms in the rural communities.


This study used cross-sectional data collected from a 2005 telephone survey for evaluation of a community walking trails intervention to promote physical activity in rural communities including 6 communities in the Missouri Ozark region and 6 communities in Arkansas and Tennessee (n = 1,234). The exposure variable is self-reported regular current physical activity. The outcome includes symptoms of insomnia operationalized as having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up too early nearly every day. Logistic regression was used to calculate prevalence odds ratios (PORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).


The study sample includes mostly white (95%), married (62%), overweight/obese (61%) women with a high school degree and a mean age of 54. Fourteen percent of participants reported having insomnia symptoms. Self-report of currently being physically active regularly was associated with decreased odds of insomnia symptoms (adjusted POR: .37; 95% CI, 0.14-0.99) among participants with under or normal body weight, after controlling for age, gender, education level, marital status, and chronic diseases. There was also a negative linear correlation between the number of days and total minutes of vigorous physical activity and insomnia symptoms.


In these rural communities, we observed a significant relationship between regular physical activity and decreased insomnia symptoms.

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