The Best Time to Hit the Gym
02/26/2013 | 03:54 PM
I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “time is of the essence.” Time is the one thing you can never get back, there never seems to be enough of it and most people don’t know how to manage it. This is especially true when it comes to exercise. One of the most common excuses about why people don’t workout is the dreaded “I don’t have time.” Well, I’m here to eliminate that excuse and help you fit exercise into your schedule – whether it’s morning, noon or night.
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If your schedule is extremely hectic, you’re a morning person or mornings seem to be your only chance for some alone time, make the most of it. Mornings are a great time to work out. Early morning workouts can boost your metabolism and keep it elevated for an extended period of time. As long as you incorporate proper nutrition in your daily routine, you can expect to burn more calories throughout the day. A morning workout routine is great at alleviating morning fatigue and has been proven to increase energy levels and mental awareness. In addition, some people like to get their workouts done before the day-to-day hustle and bustle begins. So if you’re one of these people – mornings are best for you.
Some of you may be asking, “What if I forget something in the morning? Like my suitcase for work or my sports bra for the gym?” The best way to prevent that from happening is making sure you have everything prepared the night before. The key to a successful workout is a prepared trainee. As long as you stay consistent with your workout times, it will become routine, so forgetting anything pertinent to your workout or your job will become the least of your concerns.
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For some people, the mere notion of waking up early to exercise is outlandish. For those who share that sentiment, let’s examine the afternoon workout. Many studies suggest that working out in the afternoon is best for your body, while others rebuke the concept. Arguably there hasn’t been enough scientific or physiological evidence to defend or support either claim, however there are many benefits to an early p.m. workout. For instance, afternoon workouts help you to maintain your energy levels. Due to the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones during exercise, there’s an increase in blood glucose which produce sustainable energy.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise per week. It’s easy to break that time down into 30 minute workouts per day. In addition, the likelihood of consuming a large, unhealthy lunch after a 30 minute workout significantly decreases due to general time constraints. If you’re doing a lunch break workout, you’ll probably have enough time to take a quick shower and grab a protein drink before heading back to work, which is excellent if you’re looking to lose or maintain weight. The protein drink is a great meal supplement and provides your body the nutrients it needs to build muscle and maintain its functionality.
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I only recommend working out in the evening if you have a job or other responsibility that requires you to sleep during the day. The reason I say this is due to our bodies circadian rhythm. Simply put, the circadian rhythm is the physical, behavioral and mental changes that accompany the 24 hour time cycle. This rhythm lets our bodies know when it’s time to wake up or wind down. The reason why this is so important is because of its ability to be disrupted, which can cause bouts of insomnia, weight gain, impulsivity and decreased cognitive function. Our bodies need at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night and exercise has been proven to increase energy post workout. That can lead to sleepless nights and late night eating, both of which can have severe effects on behavior and weight.
For those of you who workout in the evenings and don’t sleep during the day, be mindful of your time. Keep in mind, after your workout you need to replenish what was depleted during exercise. Therefore, it is imperative that you eat within 30 minutes after your workout. It’s never a good idea to sleep right after eating, so you want to be sure that you give yourself at least 90 minutes for digestion. Also, you want to ensure that you are getting the recommended 6-8 hours of sleep per night. If exercising in the evening prevents you from doing these vital things consistently, I strongly recommend shifting your workout schedule. If there’s no conflict, consider yourself the exception.
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The question still remains, what time works best for you? Are you an early bird or are you a night owl? Whichever time you chose, the most important thing to remember is consistency. Pick a time of day that you can stick with. Our bodies need a routine for optimal health. So, regardless of your choice, fit in time for fitness. Your body will thank you in the long run.
About the Author: Quentin Vennie is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and founder of Life-Fx Training LLC in Baltimore, MD. As an avid student of Yoga and Pilates nearing the completion of his Mind/Body Specialist Certification, he continues to broaden his practice of holistic wellness focusing on weight loss, weight management, nutrition and relaxation. In addition to training, he regularly participates in speaking engagements, conferences and health fairs in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Quentin will be taking his 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher training in July of 2013, with plans to expand his vision and approach to holistic living.
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