Does it matter WHEN you exercise? Well, when you get down to it, if you’re really pressed for time ANY time you can fit in your workout is better than missing it, but there’s some really powerful reasons why working out early is better for your body.
Especially if you’re struggling to get good, DEEP sleep.
I don’t know about you, but ever since my world got turned upside down with Covid and a crazy work schedule this year, I have struggled to get to sleep and stay asleep. There have been a lot of nights that I was only getting a few hours, then waking up and using coffee to stay awake for work. I noticed that when I began working out each morning, I was doing better sleeping, at least when I didn’t have to stay up all night for network changes or was on my phone too much in bed.
Applachian State University did a study of people and the quality of their sleep and looked at whether those people did a cardio workout and when. What they found was that aerobic exercise done in the morning (their test group worked out at 7am) made the biggest difference in the quality of sleep they measured. You can check out the actual study here, if you enjoy geeky science papers.
What they found was that aerobic exercise early in the morning, even just 20-30 minutes of brisk walking, kind of reset hormones in the body and helped regulate sleep and wake cycles. It was the combination of the exercise and the timing. The later people exercised, the less benefit they were seeing in their sleep. Those who exercised at 7pm had the worst quality sleep. For those who didn’t have time to do their full workout earlier, even just adding some cardio in the morning helped them see benefits.
If you don’t struggle with your sleep, then this might not be something you need to consider, but if you do workout later and are having issues getting a good night’s sleep, you might consider moving your workout or adding in a smaller workout in the morning!