There is no contention over the importance of regular exercise. Working out consistently benefits both the mind and body by reducing anxiety, relieving depression, and combating health conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Finding the time to exercise, however, can be difficult. Forcing yourself out of bed before dawn seems like the opposite of healthy while dragging an exhausted body to the gym after a long day at work can be absolute agony.
Perhaps the reason so many people neglect their exercise routine is that they simply can’t decide when they should go. As with any healthy habit, the key to working out is consistency. Morning and evening workouts both have their upsides and downsides, so pick a schedule that works for you and stick with it until it becomes routine. So which is better for you: exercising before work or after work?
Morning Workout: Pros
Despite how miserable you may feel getting up before the rising sun, morning workouts may be the easiest way to keep up with your exercise routine and stay healthy. Hitting the gym in the morning leads to better consistency. If you are like so many other people who have trouble finding the motivation to work out every day, morning exercise may be the key to staying on track. Get it out of the way and you won’t be tempted to flake later on in the day with excuses like exhaustion, hunger, and chores.
Exercising earlier in the day also provides health benefits. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve sleep quality. By working out in the morning, you may even boost your memory and self-control for the rest of the day, which will help you be more productive at work and better at resisting unhealthy junk foods. Even though you feel tired getting up early to work out, your body and mind will thank you for it!
Morning Workout: Cons
Besides being just plain uncomfortable, morning workouts have virtually no downside. The only thing to keep in mind is that higher body temperature leads to a safer and more successful workout. If you have just woken up, your body is probably still adjusting; allow a few minutes extra for stretching and warming up to avoid injury during your workout. And remember to take into account the amount of rest you need, and create a healthy bedtime routine that will help you get to sleep on time. Showing up to a workout tired and unrested will do more damage than good.
Evening Workout: Pros
While it may not have the same advantages as morning exercise, working out later in the day can be more comfortable. As body temperature steadily increases throughout the day, there is less chance of injury or soreness after an evening workout. For people who practice resistance training, such as weightlifting, an evening workout may be more beneficial due to the testosterone produced by the body later in the day.
Exercise also provides stress relief at any time of the day by releasing endorphins. Going for a run or hitting the gym after a stressful day at work might be just what you need to unwind and relax.
Evening Workout: Cons
Exercising later in the day does have some drawbacks. An afternoon or evening workout is more likely to conflict with your meal schedule. During digestion, blood is redirected to the digestive tract instead of the muscles you’re trying to work out, which is why professionals suggest a two-hour wait time between eating a meal and exercising. Considering this, it may be difficult to balance lunch, dinner, and a workout all in one afternoon.
Additionally, exercising too late in the day can disrupt sleep. The body requires a wind-down period before bedtime to ensure excellent sleep quality, and evening exercise can get body temperature and heart rate up too high for proper relaxation.
No matter what time of the day you decide work out, the most important part of forming a healthy habit is consistency. Pick a time that will work with your lifestyle and obligations. Even if it feels uncomfortable, to begin with, stick with your plan for at least three months to form a lasting habit. Once you get into the groove, tying on your running shoes or tossing your gym bag in the car will give you a sense of relief instead of dread. Staying physically active will aid in everyday life, as well as long-term health. By sticking with your workout regimen, you will improve your energy levels, decrease anxiety and stress, and combat a variety of illnesses. Exercise keeps both the body and the mind fit and should be an important part of your daily routine, whether you’re an early bird or a night owl.