Fitness

8 Benefits of Exercise After Dark

More often than not, if you’re looking for me on a Friday evening, I’ll be at the club— no, not the dance club—the fitness club. In fact, I’ve long swapped my little black dresses and peep-toes for black yoga pants and cross-trainers in favor of an evening sweat session. But before you feel sorry for me, consider the many benefits of evening exercise.

So if nighttime is the right time (because you have no other time) to workout, then you may be reaping the following eight benefits of reserving your workouts for after dark…

1. Sweat Off Daily Stress

I don’t know about you, but in addition to using exercise as a way to manage my weight and boost my energy, I also utilize it as a primary means to burn of stress and anxiety. And at the end of a busy weekday it just so happens that I’ve often accumulated a ton of stress that I need to literally sweat off.

So take all of that frustration—your coworker’s snarky remark, your friend’s snub, your boss’ yelling, your car troubles, or your kid’s whining—to a spin or kickboxing class and let it out in a positive way. This way you leave it behind with your perspiration on the gym floor. Alternately, if you require some rest and relaxation after a particularly grueling day, put aside the high octane workout for an after dark yin or rejuvenation yoga class to help you unwind and unplug before going to bed.


2. Take your Workout Beyond the Daily Limit

According to research from the Applied Physiology Laboratory, at the University of North Texas’ Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation, your oxygen intake is 6-percent faster and your exhaustion response to high intensity exercise is 20-percent improved during evening hours compared to morning training.

Findings from this study also showed that in addition to better oxygen uptake and utilization, the average body shows greater strength and muscular function during the evening hours vs. the morning hours, which means you can expect longer, faster, and higher intensity workouts at nighttime.

3. Sweat at Night and Sleep More Soundly

If your mind runs like an internal hamster wheel as you lie down to slumber, try hitting the gym—before hitting the hay! While exercising too close to bedtime can have an adverse affect, a study conducted by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, found that aerobic and resistance exercise both improve sleep quality and prolong duration.

The 2015 study monitored the acute effects of resistance exercise on a group of college-aged participants. The study outfitted the subjects with sleep-monitoring devices and found that participants fell asleep and stayed asleep for longer, and work fewer times during the night overall.


4. No Need for Crowd Control

If you went to the gym at all during the month of January, you know how gung-ho morning exercisers can be following the new year. Sure, according to the old adage “the early bird gets the worm.” However, if you hit the gym later in the evening, you’ll notice that the evening gym rat gets the treadmill, elliptical, yoga mat, towel, and plenty of open parking spots close to the door.

In addition to the lack of lineups for machines and the free space in aerobics classes, you may also notice that gym trainers have a lot more free time during the evening when they’re simply walking the gym floor with no clients. Perfect time to ask for some guidance on your lunging or squatting technique.


5. Less Rush in the Morning

When I used to work out before work, I would have to pack my lunch, my laptop, my sneakers, my workout clothes, and my shower bag prior to work. Now this might not seem like a travesty if you’re a morning person—but I’m not so lucky.

Any extra time that I can buy myself in the morning is a blessing. It means I can eat a balanced breakfast, have a shower, scrape all of the snow and ice off my car, and  remember to pack a lunch. Now that I leave my workouts to the evening hours, I have more time, and less stress, before I have to be at the office.


6. Enjoy the Lax Environment

Just like working at night or night school, late night workouts at the gym are a lot more lenient during the evening hours. For instance, I have no problem getting a lane all to myself in the pool, and I can extend my elliptical time past the stringent 30-minute rule that applies during morning rush hour.

As mentioned, even the personal trainers are chillaxed during nighttime gym shifts. You won’t likely have to make an appointment for assistance with the heavy bags or TRX machines, and you can likely linger and ask your yoga teacher about beneficial stretches for your tight hip flexors.


7. Gym Fun After Dark

Morning gym-goers can be a grumpy bunch. Not only are they half asleep, embarrassed to be seen in public (look at all of that bedhead), and rushing to get through their workouts—it’s difficult to leave the gym with a positive, happy glow during the morning hours.

Fast forward to the evening, you’ll find that instructors are more willing to share tips, other gym rats are more likely to spot you while you squat, and classes are more apt to feature disco balls vs. drill sergeant demands. I look at my gym’s nighttime schedule and I see a lineup of fun-fuelled activities, like glow stick body pump, candlelit spin classes, karaoke Zumba, and anti-gravity yoga (or yoga in slings).


8. Experience the Open Roads

Now, I don’t reserve my nighttime workouts for the gym only. For instance, during crisp fall evenings, I hit the road on my bike (outfitted with proper lighting, of course) and on warm summer nights I choose to run with a group when the air is cooler and the trails are open (with bright, reflective clothing, of course).

If you’re not yet sold on the idea of nighttime workouts, consider a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s Clinical Research Centre, which found that those who exercise at night attain a higher level of fitness compared to those who exercise in the morning due to improve metabolism (increased cortisol and thyrotropin hormones).

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