This month, the LEAP team have been on a mission to ensure that we’re being disciplined about working out. This has led to a couple of office shenanigans (check out our Instagram page for a sneak peak at what happens behind-the-scenes), but it has also provoked some healthy debate about when the best time to work out actually is.
We’ve scoured the deep depths of the internet, and come back with a fairly obvious answer: it depends on the person. There isn’t a lot of research to support the idea that working out first thing in the morning or last thing before bed time is particularly more effective than the other, but there are pros and cons for both kind of activity. Here’s what you need to know about when the best time to work out for you may be:
If you’re considering working out in the mornings before work:
There’s a lot to be said about the benefits of the morning workout. Not only does exercising in the early morn boost your energy levels, making for a pretty productive day at the office, but it also lifts your mood, which means if you’re someone prone to a lot of stress or anxiety while at work, this may help counter some of that.
According to Stephanie Lauren, CEO and founder of PLYOGA fitness, working out in the morning means ‘You clear your mind and give yourself positive energy for the entire day. Most Fortune 500 CEOs workout in the morning for this reason’.
Hey – if it’s good enough for Bill Gates. You also tend to burn most fat if you choose to squeeze your work out in during the day, since you’ve yet to eat most of your meals and sugar-high foods. All this being said, morning workouts are not free of their negative qualities.
You have to be careful about risking injury, which is far more likely to happen during the day right after you’ve woken up. Taking the proper steps towards warming up is therefore important – you don’t really want to be skipping work because you forgot to take the proper precautions before exercising.
If you aren’t naturally an early riser, or you have a super long commute to work, morning exercise is probably not for you either. The idea is to make working out easily integrate into your daily schedule, so if that means mornings don’t work, it’s okay!
If you’re considering working out in the evenings after work:
Evening work outs come with a host of benefits of their own. Since you’ve gotten the bulk of your day out of the way, it usually allows for a lengthier work out period, and one in which you have significantly more physical energy, which is good for exercise that involves weights and strength training, for instance.
Working out after work also ensures you’re able to properly plug out of the office and recharge some of the energy taken up by stressing about project deadlines or that co-worker who keeps you around with news of their summer vacation a little longer than you’d wish. Allowing yourself some time that is purely committed to self-improvement after work can be a great way to get into a clearer headspace, not to mention prime yourself for the next day ahead of time.
Leave it too late, however, and you might risk messing up your sleep cycles: exercise naturally raises your cortisol levels, which keeps you more awake and alert. Ensure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to decompress after your work out, however, and you should be just fine.