Run at Night

It’s Been Often Asked Whether Exercise at Night Is Good or Bad?

Exercise is exercise, right? It doesn’t matter if you exercise at night, as long as you actually do it.

Well, maybe. There’s been talk over the years that exercise at night can be a bad thing—it gets your blood pumping, so you’ll have a harder time getting to sleep, so they say. Others say your body is tired after a long day so you won’t have an effective workout at night.

Here’s the scoop: everybody (literally) is different. Here are a few safety rules to follow when it comes to exercising at night.

Get your snack on!

When you exercise, your body uses a lot of nutrients it has stored. When you go to sleep, this process of nutrient depletion continues.

If you’re following a hardcore diet, it can be a risk exercising before you go to bed. If you hit the streets for a jog just before you hit the sheets, you aren’t eating to recover from the workout—and that can be risky.

Therefore, plan out your snacks. Have a small, healthy meal before you go to sleep. If you can do this, you’ll be fine working out before you go to bed. No one likes waking up in the middle of the night starving and ready for a full-course meal—it’s a pretty common problem with bodybuilders and other athletes.

Try to stay with healthy fats and proteins, with low carbs, to give your body what it needs after a workout and before bed. You’ll be nice and recovered by the following morning and be ready to continue your healthy lifestyle.

3 hours before bed 

Listen to your body when it comes to working out—you are your body’s best interpreter. If you have a hard time relaxing and falling asleep after you workout at night, don’t! Or try switching to a different exercise, like yoga. Roll out your yoga mat and focus on getting a good but relaxing workout.

“I typically tell my patients to minimize exercise within three hours of bedtime,” Lisa Medalie, Psy.D., says.

Need more proof? An Appalachian State University study discovered participants who lifted weights at 7 a.m. fell asleep a lot faster than participants who either didn’t work out or worked out in the afternoon/evening. However, people who conducted their workouts at 7 p.m., found themselves sleeping through the night more thoroughly than those who exercised in the morning.

Point blank—it depends on your preference! You just simply have to find what works for you and your body. Don’t try to force something if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

Stick with strength training 

Stick with strength training

One major perk of hitting the gym before you hit the bed: it helps keep your eating and drinking in check. You’re a lot more likely to follow healthy habits after a workout. Therefore, no more nighttime binging.

Plus, exercise can be a great stress reliever. There’s nothing better than lifting weights or hitting the sidewalk after a long day in the office. Again, keeping up with your nutrition is key here. You don’t want to wake up hungry and ready to demolish the kitchen after you’ve killed all those calories before bed.

The key to working out before bed, however, is it’s the ideal time to build up your strength. Why? Simply because, throughout the day, your body temperature continues to increase. It peaks sometime between 4 and 6 in the afternoon, which means your muscle strength and power is going to do the same. If you’re really focusing on getting stronger, the evening is a good time for it.

Cardio is best for early morning because it gets your heart pumping and blood flowing. When you can, schedule your strength training for the evenings. When you’re ready to hit the cardio track, aim for the morning.

Give yourself a cut off time

There’s a difference between working out at night and working out at midnight. Jason Wimberly, a celebrity trainer, and creator of The Wall and Wimberlean agrees.

“Getting a workout in at any time is great and I never tell someone to not do a workout,” says Jason. “But a late-night workout can really be disadvantageous for you. Our bodies are meant to shut down at a certain point in the day.”

Jason explains that, at night, your body starts producing a chemical that enables your brain to shut down. Your body begins to create melatonin (which helps you improve sleep quality) from 7 to 9 p.m. So, if you fight that in order to get a workout in, there’s a good chance your sleep is going to be severely affected.

As a rule of thumb, Jason suggests working out after 8 in the evening shouldn’t happen.

At the end of the day ….

Ultimately, there’s only one right answer when it comes down to if exercising at night is bad for you—it depends on you.

If you want to get a good night’s sleep, the best way to make that happen is to be consistent. If you can’t stomach the idea of waking up with the sun to exercise, forcing yourself isn’t going to work. You’re likely better off working out before you go to bed and you’re more likely to stick with it.

Whatever works best for your schedule is the best solution for you. Whatever time you’re going to have more energy and more consistency sticking with it is the best time for you. If you can plan your workout for the time of day where you feel energized and are going to be able to get a good workout in without feeling stressed, rushed or tired, it’s going to give you the best results. Consistency is more important than timing.

Just make sure you’re getting a good night sleep and the nutrients your body needs. Other than that, it’s up to you to discover what works for your body and what doesn’t. It may take some time to figure out which side you’re on—early bird exerciser or late night runner—but once you find your flow, your next step is just sticking with it.

About the Author Andrea Argenio