Sleep and Biological Rhythms

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 199–206 | Cite as

Effects of physical exercise on human circadian rhythms

  • Yujiro YamanakaEmail author
  • Ken-ichi Honma
  • Satoko Hashimoto
  • Nana Takasu
  • Toshihiko Miyazaki
  • Sato Honma
Review Article


Bright light is the principal zeitgeber for the biological clock in mammals, including humans. But there is a line of evidence that non-photic stimuli such as physical activity play an important role in entrainment. Scheduled physical activity, such as wheel and forced treadmill running, has been reported to phase-shift and entrain the circadian rhythm in rodent species. In humans, several studies have reported the phase-shifting effects of physical exercise. A single bout of physical exercise at night was demonstrated to phase-delay the circadian rhythm in plasma melatonin. However, for the entrainment of human circadian rhythm, a phase-advance shift is needed. Previously, we demonstrated that scheduled physical exercise in the waking period facilitated the entrainment of plasma melatonin rhythm to the sleep/wake schedule of 23 h 40 min. This result suggested that timed physical exercise produced phase-advance shifts. A regular physical exercise also facilitated entrainment of the circadian rhythms associated with acute phase-delay shifts of the sleep/wake and light/dark schedule. These findings suggest that physical exercise is useful to adjust the circadian rhythm to external time cues, especially for totally blind people and elderly people.

Key words

circadian rhythm entrainment human phase shift physical exercise 


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Copyright information

© Japanese Society of Sleep Research 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yujiro Yamanaka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ken-ichi Honma
    • 1
  • Satoko Hashimoto
    • 1
  • Nana Takasu
    • 1
  • Toshihiko Miyazaki
    • 1
  • Sato Honma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysiologyHokkaido University Graduate School of MedicineSapporoJapan

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