November 8, 2012

Exercise Now or Later?

I am most definitely interested in exercising and always have been. I have been a long distance runner, a bicyclist, and now a jogger and walker. I have done aerobics, water aerobics, dance, yoga, step; you name it, I’ve at least tried it. I hike and fish and climb. And I have tried each of these at different times of days because one person claimed morning while another claimed night.

When should you exercise? Well, that is a very good question with a not-so-simple answer. I have had this conversation with trainers and athletes many times to no avail. Some people claim that mornings are best while others laud the afternoon or evening. I have even met people who claim that midnight is the best time to exercise. It has been a frustrating conversation for me.

What I found for me is that I have to exercise when it best fits my schedule. In years past, I exercised in the evening because my schedule was such that I was able to teach in the afternoons and evenings thus staying up later and sleeping in. This has been my all-time favorite schedule. I work better on this pattern. According to WebMD, this is because my circadian rhythm predetermines whether I am a night owl or early bird. I am a night owl by nature; it is by force that I have become an early bird. Now, I wake up at 5:30am to exercise because my job requires I teach in the mornings. This has not been an easy switch for me on both accounts.

I love to exercise in the evening because of the sleep. When I exercise in the evening, I have no problems sleeping. I would fall asleep easily and stay asleep until I must wake up the next day. I would also go to sleep clean because I must shower after exercise, which further helps my sleep patterns. I would have to take another shower when I wake up because that is part of my waking process, but I was okay with that.

Since my schedule has changed to one where I must be up early, exercising in the evening is too hard for me. I wake up at 6:30am to ready for work, and by 4:30pm when I’d arrive home, I’d be too tired to motivate myself for jogging. So, I moved my exercise to the morning, woke up an hour earlier, and found that I was able to commit to this because I would have to get up early anyway. And I’ve also found that there are benefits to early morning exercise namely that I have time to consider my day, contemplate ideas, and just wake up more.

The American Heart Association supports the idea that people should exercise when they know they can commit to the activity. If you know, like I did, that you would be too tired to exercise in the evening because you have to wake up so early, then you should not plan to exercise then. If exercise is something that you want and need (as we all should), then you must find a time in your daily schedules that you will actually commit to. The AHA further claims that you should consider the following when deciding what time to exercise:

  • Location
  • Time of day
  • Type of physical activity
  • Social setting

When you plan to exercise, and really consider the factors that influence your daily schedules, you are far more likely to exercise. Don’t listen to what others say about when to exercise; exercise when it’s best for you. What’s important is that you fit in time to exercise because only good outcomes happen when you exercise.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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