When it comes to choosing between sleep and a morning workout, we wouldn’t blame you if you picked the former over the latter most – if not all – of the time. Few among us have the motivation to hit the gym before work and would rather sweat it out after office hours. That’s all good because exercising at night has its benefits.
You might have come across research that suggests that physical exertion too close to bedtime will hinder your sleep because your levels of adrenaline and cortisol will be boosted. Well, there’s substantial research that suggests quite the opposite.
A 2013 study by the National Sleep Foundation in the US, for instance, found that there was no difference in sleep quality for people who worked out within four hours before bedtime. In fact, it really didn’t matter what time of the day participants chose to exercise. Just exercising itself encouraged better sleep.
Night workouts can also improve your heart health. A study published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research found that those who exercised at night lowered their blood pressure by 15 per cent more than those who worked out in the morning.
And there are the practical benefits. You won’t need to worry about packing your workwear, toiletries and makeup into your gym bag or rushing to the office. Ready to sweat it out? Here are the best after-work workouts.
This full-body workout gives you the chance to literally punch away all the stress and frustration that’s built up throughout the work day. You’ll stand to gain stamina and strength as well as better balance, agility and coordination from a boxing session. For maximum calorie burn, we recommend going for an aqua boxing class that’s done high-intensity internal training style. Instead of only doing rounds of jabs, hooks and uppercuts, you’ll also do bodyweight exercises and weight training. Expect to sweat buckets and feel like a million bucks afterwards.
Calm your mind and body down at the same time by stretching it out in a yoga class. The stress-relieving benefits of this age-old practice have long been documented. Yoga helps to regulate the breath and increase bodily awareness; it interrupts our “worry cycle” and teaches us to practise self-compassion; all of these help in reducing anxiety. Any style of yoga is beneficial, but hatha yoga is a good one to start with if you’re a newbie as the class is usually done at a slower pace. Go for a class that incorporates breathing exercises and meditation as these aid in relaxation
This is a solo activity that allows you to listen to music or a podcast or simply zone out as you move. Running at night is cooler and it’s relatively inexpensive as you pretty much just need a good pair of trainers. Research supports night running too. Scientists at the University of Chicago’s Clinical Research Centre conducted trial runs and found that the body’s metabolism adapted better to evening and night-time runs. Post-run blood samples from participants also showed that levels of harmful by-products of stress like cortisol were also lower at night compared to in the day.
The main perk of weight training: Your body will become more efficient at burning fat because you’ll gain more muscle. It’s worth incorporating into your fitness routine as you’ll look more toned overall – no more flabby bits! Women are also four times more likely than men to develop osteoporosis and weight training helps with preventing that by strengthening your bones. Weight training in the evening is ideal because your body is in a better position to do it. Lifting weights is a type of anaerobic exercise and according to research published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, anaerobic capacity is seven per cent in the evening compared to in the morning.