In today’s busy world, fitting in time to exercise can be very tricky. Whilst crack-of-dawn workouts might seem like a great idea, they can all too often mean giving up something just as precious – sleep!
For many people, an evening run or a trip to the gym after a late shift at work is a simple way to add exercise into their schedule. However, evening and night time exercise certainly has its pros and cons.
A plus point is the ability to keep your mornings calmer. Not everyone is a morning person with an abundance of energy at 6am, and exercise at this time may be the last thing on your mind. The temptation to hit the snooze button and dive back under the covers can be just too strong. If you’re more of a night owl, evening time might be the only period in the day when you feel energised enough to exercise, and it could well be argued that any exercise is better than none.
Another good thing about exercising during the evening is it can work off the stress of a busy day. Many people find it helps them to mentally unwind and makes them tired and ready for bed. It can also help boost you enough to stay awake for a while after dinner when you may have otherwise dozed off on the sofa.
However, evening exercise has its cons too. Things can pop up which distract you and throw your exercise plans off course. It’s tempting to skip a workout in favour of a meal with friends or sorting out the kids’ homework. Gyms are often busier and more noisy in the evenings too.
Exercise later in the day can also disrupt your sleep. By exercising within 2 to 3 hours before bed time, you may find it considerably harder to nod off, however this does depend on how intense your workout was. If you’re finding this is an issue, it’s worth swapping to lower intensity exercise like yoga or pilates and leaving cardio until the weekend.
There’s no hard and fast rule about when is best to exercise and of course everyone is different. The trick is in finding a way to fit it into your hectic days without sacrificing good quality, restful sleep.
You can read more about the importance of sleep in exercise rest and recovery here.