By: Mary Pat Baldauf
The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.
– Alan Watts
Early morning exercise: I’ve blogged about it, praised it and lived it. But after three and half years of working out three to five days a week at 5:00 in the morning, my body has had enough. A few weeks ago, I switched my morning workouts to the afternoon to accommodate an early morning FEMA training workshop, and I haven’t looked back. I’ve been going to the gym after work ever since.
Morning exercise has lots of benefits, and the first few days, I actually felt a little guilty for missing it, even though I was getting it in after work. So before I permanently switched off my 4:17 a.m. alarm, I did a little research about morning exercise vs. evening exercise.
The bottom line? The best time to work out depends on the best time for you.
“The best time of the day is when you will do it most consistently, because the benefits of physical activity are tightly linked to the amount you do on a consistent basis,” says Russell Pate, M.D., professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.
When I first started working out, I deliberately chose early mornings. I knew that incorporating exercise into my day would be a big enough challenge without having to juggle workouts with after-work meetings and social activities. There are no conflicts at 5 o’clock in the morning. I gave up some evening activities so I could get to bed earlier, and I often got less sleep, but establishing the habit of working out was most important to me. I also really enjoyed the energy surge and extra time I had after my early morning workout.
Now that I have established the habit of working out and have improved my health significantly, I find that I need more than six hours of sleep. I also feel like I’m missing out when I go to bed at 8:30 p.m. Now I can do some things around the house, enjoy evening activities and spend more time with my family and friends. Working with a new trainer provides me with a challenge, and I’ve enjoyed seeing some new and different faces at the gym.
I’m not sure how long this new phase will last; it could go away as quickly as it came. But for now, I’m not questioning it. Instead, like Watts said, I’m plunging into and moving with it.
And, just in the nick of time, I loved this post from Women’s Health: 10 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Hit the Gym After Work.
Do you have a preferred time to exercise? If so, why does that time of the day work best for you?