(AscendHealthy.com) – We work out to feel better, strengthen our bodies and improve our energy levels, so some of us might be surprised to learn our workout routines might not be serving us as well as they could. Changing the time of day we unroll that yoga mat or climb on that treadmill might seem like a small adjustment, but it could make all the difference. Read on to find out why the time of day we work out matters.
Working Against Our Natural Rhythm
Research has found vigorous exercise before bedtime delays sleep onset by an average of 14 minutes. Exercise might feel exhausting, but it can also excite the body and speed up the heart — delaying the body’s ability to shift gears into relaxation mode.
The release of norepinephrine and adrenaline plays a major role in these effects. Norepinephrine is responsible for our increased heart rate during exercise, and it also tells the body it’s time to wake up and be aware. We produce adrenaline, a major component of our fight or flight response, when we encounter any type of stress, including physical exertion.
These chemicals work to have us upright and ready for whatever lies ahead, which can pose a problem if sleep is next on the agenda. To keep workouts from affecting our sleep schedules, Health.com recommends exercising at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Getting the Most Out of Any Routine
If evenings are the only time a workout will fit into the schedule, we may need to find ways to make it happen while minimizing its effects on our sleep. See if a slightly earlier time is feasible; if not, keep the exercise at a lower intensity, which may reduce norepinephrine and adrenaline release.
Consider relaxing exercise routines, such as yoga, that integrate slow breathing and other body-calming techniques. Taking a hot bath or shower after the workout or eating foods that can promote well-being and sleepiness may also help. Whatever strategies we use, consistency is essential above all else. Remember, any exercise is better than no exercise.
Nighttime workouts might not be the best idea, especially for people who have trouble falling asleep. The right routine is out there, but not everyone will find success using the same schedule. We may need to play around with a few different strategies to see what works best; some adjustments may be necessary to find the right balance between getting enough exercise and practicing good sleep hygiene.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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