The Best Times to Workout While Balancing Your Career
Ultimately, it’s best to work out when you naturally feel most inclined—a preference that might be largely out of your control as predetermined by your genes. Because of this, we at ActiveSoul encourage employees to exercise when it’s most convenient for you—whether before work, during your lunch break, or after the office closes.
If you are someone who doesn’t have a strong natural preference to a specific time of day, there are several dos and don’ts to consider when building workout classes into your routine.
Don’t make it your goal to burn fat pre-breakfast:
While exercising on an empty stomach does force the body to rely on fat as its fuel, this is unlikely to translate to fat loss over time. However, those who work out in the morning have been found to eat less throughout the rest of the day.
Do take advantage of the domino effect:
Starting your day with a healthy, energizing habit can lead to an increased focus on following other healthy habits. For example, working out more often inspires people to eat healthier (or eat less, as mentioned above).
Don’t prioritize exercise over food:
Your lunch break should still include lunch—and gives you another reason to save money and brown bag it!
Do use your lunchtime break as motivation:
Most lunch breaks are an hour, which means your workout will be less than an hour. Bonus! Enjoy these quick 10-minute workouts designed for lunch breaks.
Use this short timeframe as encouragement to push yourself. You also probably don’t need to be reminded of the research that proves just how awful a sedentary lifestyle is for our bodies. This mid-day workout cannot only break up the long hours of sitting, but also re-energize you, give your brain a break, and reduce work stress.
Don’t worry about its impact on sleep:
There has been some research that suggests working out too closely to bedtime will make it harder to fall asleep, but recently, more and more research suggests this might not be true. While morning vigorous exercisers had the most favorable sleep outcomes in the study, the overwhelming majority of individuals who logged vigorous evening exercise reported their sleep quality and quantity to be the same or better on the days they worked out.
Do take advantage of external accountability:
Gyms are usually more crowded after work than before, but post-work hours often offers a greater selection of workout classes. Use this to your advantage by trying out a variety of workout classes and booking them with a friend or coworker on the ActiveSoul app. Outer accountability is very helpful for habit-forming, and while you can use this strategy anytime of the day, you’re more likely to find gym partners after work.
Don’t force yourself into a morning routine if you know you like to sleep in. If you know your willpower will be drained by the end of the work day, don’t set yourself up for failure by booking a 6 pm exercise class. The best time of day to work out is the time that you can and will regularly stick with it. Evidence suggests that consistently working out at the same time of day is one of the strongest predictors of sticking to the habit. In this study, they found it took six weeks to form a fitness habit!
If your body doesn’t naturally gravitate to a specific time of day to exercise, then choosing the best time of day based on the benefits that most appeal to you is another strategy for motivating yourself to stick to your routine.