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The Pros and Cons of Working Out at Night

Most people get their workout in first thing in the morning (6-8 a.m.), on their lunch break (2-4 p.m.), or in the late afternoon (5-7 p.m.). But there's another time of day to work out: in the evening, anytime after 7 p.m. It's not the most common of workout times, but for those who work late, commute long distances, or have a different work schedule, it's the only time they have to do it.

But is working out at night good, or will it lead to sleep problems? Below we've got a list of the pros and cons of working out at night:

Pros:

  • No stress or time pressure. Instead of having to rush back to work, you can work out at night with no other commitments or pressures. You have more time to work out without worrying about what comes next.
  • Great for decompressing. After an intense day at the office, nothing helps you take your mind off stress and work pressures like a workout. You can run, lift, or cycle away your problems!
  • Less pressure during the day. With evening workouts, you can sleep later, enjoy your lunch break, and take time with your kids after work, knowing you'll fit your workout in later.
  • Better musculoskeletal performance. After a day of moving around, your body is warmed up and your joints loosened. You're far less likely to injure yourself with an evening workout.

Cons:

  • More temptation to bail. You've had a long day, so the last thing you want to do is more work. You're far more likely to cut out early or simply ditch the workout completely if it means you have less stress.
  • Larger crowds. A lot of other people have the same idea to work out at night, so the gym tends to get pretty busy after 5 p.m. You may end up fighting for the weights and machines!
  • Fewer options. You may not be able to run or cycle outdoors because of the darkness or cold, or public transportation may no longer be running after you finish the workout.
  • Disruptions to your sleep patterns. Working out at night revs up your metabolism, which can stop you from getting to sleep. Levels of adrenaline and stress hormones spike during a workout, preventing restfulness.
  • No social life. When you spend all your evenings working out, you have fewer opportunities to socialize with friends. Social isolation can lead to depression, boredom, and other emotional problems, all of which could make it harder for you to get your workout.

The truth is that evening workouts do offer a lot of benefits, but it's vital you understand the drawbacks. You may have more time, but the risk of sleep disruptions can be a good reason to stick with morning or afternoon workouts.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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