We always wonder - does the early bird always get the worm? Or should I respect all the literature suggesting that our entire population is sleep deprived… and get that ever-so precious extra hour in bed? Does it matter if I sweat first thing or right before I wind down for the night? Let’s explore the options!
Advantages to Working Out in the Morning:
Consistency: Generally speaking, it is easier to stay on track with a fitness regime first thing in the morning because there is less time for family, evening plans, commuting, late nights in the office, and other distractions to get in the way. Lethargy from a long day can easily result in skipped evening workouts.
Avoiding crowds: Apparently early birds are a rare breed! Fitness centres see the most traffic between 5 and 8 p.m., making it difficult to get the machine or class you want. Mornings see less traffic so a.m. workouts may be more efficient. And even if there is an influx of people between 6 and 8 a.m., they tend to get in and get out within a fixed amount of time – there are places to go and people to see! The whole day awaits! This means less clogging up of communal spaces with socialization.
Convenience: There’s minimal traffic, usually available parking and few people on public transit. Who can deny that the 5pm rush doesn’t add a little extra stress in the fitness hustle? Wake up to your favourite tune (maybe plugged into headphones… since we don’t want to strain your relationships!) and get your butt moving.
Healthy breakfast: Most of the time, you feel like a million bucks after exercising. Doesn’t that make you want to eat right and respect your ‘temple’ and all that jazz. Yes, we feel the same. Suddenly a croissant and coffee craving is morphed into a (Glory) green smoothie and (Glory) energy bar. Poof! Like magic. Plus, water. More and more and more water is drunk when you wake up with a workout.
Sleep: Nothing like knowing you have to be up an hour (and a half) earlier to make you catch some zzz’s when you’re sitting on the couch – tried as can be – as Netflix auto-play’s episode after episode. Sleep earlier! When you’re tired and prepare for improved mental clarity upon waking.
Advantages to Working Out in the Evening:
Strength & Flexibility: Hitting snooze a few times just before you crawl onto the treadmill might have you sleep walking on the machine. This feeling of fatigue and inability to concentrate can lead to injury, which will ultimately delay your progress. An individual who works out later in the day has the opportunity to eat and fuel up before a tough workout. It's also very important to warm up properly in the morning before a workout since you're more likely to have cold muscles. If you get into intensive physical activity right away - you may suffer from muscle strain. Whereas, in the evening, you'll have had a full day of moving your body and warming up to get you in the groove before a workout.
Stress Relief: Studies have linked weight gain to increased stress levels, thanks to the release of cortisol. Research has shown that this hormone can increase an individual's desire to eat bad-for-you foods. Having an outlet, such as a kickboxing or personal training, at the end of the workday can provide a healthy way to release daily stresses—a far better option than hitting a happy hour!
Accountability: You may be more likely to find a fitness pal for an evening workout rather than a 6am sweat. Using the buddy system will ensure that you're held accountable!
Availability: Variety is the spice of life! Most fitness studios offer a larger variety of classes after work than in the morning hours. Plus, a packed post-work class may push you to compete against fellow attendees and work harder than you would otherwise.
Safety: Walking home from an evening workout alongside fellow classmates and commuters can be a whole lot safer than hitting the road for an early morning run or lone workout.
Ultimately, it’s up to you! Everyone is different and should follow what makes them feel the best. I’m always an advocate for morning workouts but that’s not to say that I haven’t wasted money by sleeping through the 6am sweat sessions. Remember, consistency is key, so find the time that allows you to stick to it. More than anything, showing up matters more than when you do!