For years, there's been a debate raging over when the best time of day to work out is.
Personally, I've always been in the early morning gym session camp. If I can just set my alarm for one hour earlier than normal, I can get to the gym before work and allow all the purported benefits of early exercise to take place throughout my day.
One of my other justifications for refusing to work out after work or at night is I'll just be too tired. In the morning, I'm full of energy, I have an empty stomach and I haven't showered yet. Hey, I never said my justifications were reasonable, it's just how I rationalize in my head.
But when it comes to working out, so much of getting yourself to commit to the physical grind is mental. And once you wrap your head around the fact there are other times of the day to work out other than first thing in the morning, you'll see being the first one in the gym may not equate to a first-place finish in the long run.
For a variety of reasons, there are those who advise against working out at night, but after a little digging, I discovered there's nothing wrong with a late-night trip to the gym. In fact, there's a whole lot right about it.
There's absolutely no merit to the theory working out at night will lead to sleeplessness.
There's long been a belief working out at night will keep you awake afterward, but there's virtually no proof to actually back up that claim.
Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels posted a piece with the sole intention of debunking that fitness myth, and one of her main rationales for supporting working out at night is the fact working out, no matter the time, will help you get a good night's sleep.
Many believe the increase in adrenaline levels, which will accompany your late-night workout, will keep your motor going and prevent you from sleeping.
Working out at night produces endorphins, which induce feelings of calmness and relaxation. Working out at any point reduces anxiety and stress, so combine that with an increased sense of relaxation, and it appears working out at night is actually a recipe for a great night's sleep.
Further proof rests with the National Sleep Foundation, which discovered those who exercise at night don't have an issue falling asleep.
Working out at night can provide you with a better start, and finish, to your day.
Working out at night can also be more beneficial than a morning routine because it allows you to get rid of all the bullsh*t you put up with during the day.
Taking home a tough day at the office, coupled with whatever else is going on in your personal life, can lead to irritability, restlessness and anxiety. If you trade in your work clothes for a pair of shorts or leggings and get in a night workout, you'll find yourself much more rested and ready in the morning to take on the next day's challenges.
When you work out in the morning, you may feel like you have more energy, but according to a study published by NRC Research Press, when you work out at night you can experience greater strength and muscular function, in addition to increased oxygen absorption and usage.
Additionally, working out in the morning is usually impeded by time constraints, whereas working out at night often takes place on your own schedule.
If you're in the gym at 9 pm, you probably don't have anywhere you have to be at 10:30 pm on the dot.
A night-time gym session means you don't have to run out the door in the morning with your work bag, gym bag and an empty stomach, which is often the case for those who scramble to get a workout in before getting to the office. If you work out at night, you can take that extra time in the morning to get a proper nutritional breakfast and get to the office early.
Hitting the gym in the later evening hours will allow you to actually enjoy working out.
Another pro to working out at night is having your pick of the litter when you get to the gym. Have you ever tried to get an elliptical during peak morning or afternoon hours? Or how about finding a bench and a particular set of weights? Forget about it.
At night, you can use the equipment you want, take your time to decide what you want to do and not be rushed. If you don't already prescribe to the night work-out routine, that alone is reason enough to switch it up.
Striking up a conversation with fellow gym-goers and personal trainers is also easier in the evening hours.
Everyone's on the same page when it's 9 pm and most moms, juice heads and type-A personalities have gone home for the day. If you need some assistance or you're interested in trying something new, odds are the people around you will be more receptive to lending a helping hand at night than they are during the day.
The scientific and physical benefits of working out at night are great, but as you can also see, getting a late-night gym session in can mean a less crowded gym, less chaos in your morning routine and more time and space to cater your workout to your needs.
And remember, working out at night doesn't have to be at a gym. Go for a run, take a yoga class and do what feels right.
Citations: MYTH: Exercising at Night Keeps You Awake (Jillian Michaels), The Surprising Benefits of Exercising at Night (GREATIST), Morning–evening differences in response to exhaustive severe-intensity exercise (NRC Research Press)