We all should be moving all the time, be true Everyday Athletes. But let’s face it, most of us have jobs that tie us down to a desk for large chunks of the day.
So the question can be raised: When, on any given day, should we exercise in order to fit it all in?
The answer, of course, is: first thing in the morning.
There you go, question answered. Shortest blog post ever!
Ok, maybe not.
Leaving aside the facile answer (which, for many reasons, remains probably the right answer for many), let’s have a look at the pros and cons of various moments of the day.
Assume for the sake of this discussion, that you are doing “some” exercise only. It could be the basic program of No-brainer Fitness: E, or some other light to moderate training regimen…
The Morning: Seize the Day!
The main positive aspects of exercising first thing in the morning is that you can make sure that it gets done. Especially if it is a short routine that only takes a few minutes, there’s no time like the present to get it done!
You are also mentally most energetic at this time of day; your stores of willpower and decision-making energy are full from a good night’s rest, so there is less chance you will give up in the middle of your routine.
However, be careful of eating a little something (unless you are purposefully training “on empty”) because you might not feel enough physical energy.
The main drawbacks to exercising in the morning come from family life and logistics in general. If you have kids, it is often hard to get everything prepared and the kids ready and fit some exercise in the morning. Also, having to get everything or everyone else ready then head over to a gym or pool, and then get ready yourself for work, is a major hassle.
It may be difficult to get the kind of class or training session you seek at a time and location that is practical for you in the morning. So perhaps mornings are not best for you.
However, for short exercise routines that don’t need to be done at a gym or pool, and especially with a good partner to share the load, the morning time remains ideal for exercise.
Also, a lot of the morning pressure can be lifted by getting up earlier, for instance well before the kids, and doing your exercise then. This can become your personal time. But make sure to get to bed earlier as well (getting to bed too late is a major problem in modern life, about which it is high time I write something on this blog…).
Lunch Time or Mid-Day: Re-energize!
The main positive aspect of exercising in the middle of the day is that it provides a very good break from work, and can even replenish your energy levels for the rest of the day.
It is certainly always a good change of pace, if you can swing it.
Unfortunately, most people’s lunch time is often too short to be of much use, especially considering the need to go somewhere, get changed, exercise, get changed again, go back, and still find time to eat something.
If you can just zip out for a run or a brisk walk, that’s great. And there might be some short fitness classes offered near your work. Much of anything else is sure to be a logistical challenge.
Our modern schedules are bad. We really should be able to take the time we need during the day to stay fit. Our productivity would soar! But until that’s the case, exercising in the middle of the day won’t be ideal.
Evening: Make or Break Time!
Everybody’s favourite time of day; freed from work, time for ourselves… and family/household obligations.
The evening provides far more flexibility for exercising, and there are plenty of activities to choose from. It would seem ideal at first, but there are major drawbacks.
By this point, even if you’ve psyched yourself all day, you are at your most tired mentally. And at the greatest risk of simply skipping the workout.
Also, there are equally many things to juggle at night: cooking, homework, dishes, catching up on your partner’s day, etc. Making time for exercise is even more an issue in the evening as it may seem to be in the morning. And without clear deadlines (school or daycare time, being at work, etc.) the temptation to take it easy so as to stress less often leads to overruns and something having to drop. Care to guess what is most likely to get dropped?
If you are still keen and decide to exercise “later”, say as last thing in the evening, then you face the worst possible scenario: needing another meal, and not being able to fall asleep for quite some time. Indeed, the boost to your hormonal levels and wakefulness due to exercise, and the need to refuel, will push your bedtime to the point of making getting up the next day a Herculean task.
Some light routine, a bit of strength work and relaxing stretches, or making sure your training is before dinner time, can work just fine.
So there you have it, more fully.
When’s the best moment to exercise? Whenever it works best for you.
But if you are thinking about starting a new routine, consider making it a morning one, and making sure you get that sense of accomplishment first thing in the morning, to give a positive outlook on your entire day…
(And this turned out to be one of my longest posts. But it could have been the shortest.)
Photo by Pixabay.
Logistically it’s easier for me in the mornings, but I have to force myself to eat. Ordinarily I wouldn’t eat before I leave the house. Of course CNS fatigue eventually left me no choice.
Next month I’m changing my habits and doing one week mornings, and one week evenings (two gym memberships!). We’ll see how that goes…