Is it Counter Productive to Work Out Late?

If you are an evening person, enjoy a workout after dark.
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Exercise can help you manage your weight, improve your quality of life and prevent chronic disease. Anytime you can fit in a workout is a good time -- even if it is late at night. Working out late offers the same calorie-burning benefits as working out earlier in the day and may actually offer some additional strength-training benefits. As long as you are getting enough sleep and are not too fatigued to exercise with good form, a late-night workout is perfectly acceptable.


You might worry late exercise will interfere with your ability to sleep. Shawn Youngstedt, a researcher in the department of exercise science at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, told "U.S. News and World Report" in 2008 that exercise at any time of day can help you sleep a little better -- especially if you have sleep disorders or insomnia. Certain people may find that they do have trouble falling asleep after exercising later in the day, but Youngstedt notes little scientific evidence supports this is true for everyone. Even people who do have trouble sleeping after exercise can perform bedtime rituals, such as dimming the lights and turning off electronics, to help get to sleep soon after an evening run or lift. It may take them a little more practice to train their body to calm down after a workout session, but most people can eventually adjust. If you find a late-night workout is overly stimulating and is impairing your sleep, finish your exercise at least two to three hours before bedtime.


A late workout may be more effective than a morning workout, especially when it comes to strength training. Your core temperature is higher in the evening, meaning your muscles and connective tissues are warmer. Warm muscles are better able to lift heavy weights and do explosive exercises, notes Cedric Bryant of the American Council on Exercise. You may also have more fuel in your system from the day’s meals -- which means your energy stores are higher and you can last longer.

Warm-Up Time

While you should never skip your warmup, you might trim it for an evening workout. A morning workout can require as long as 15 minutes of gentle, easy activity to prime your body for movement. In the evening, your higher core temperature and alert mind mean that you may trim this about five minutes. Because your muscles and heart are not yet primed, morning workouts, especially high-intensity ones, may put you at a higher risk for injury, says Bryant.


Evening workouts can be counterproductive if you regularly miss them due to things that “come up” over the course of your day. If you find you are skipping your late workout more often than making it, it isn’t doing you any good. When you exercise first thing in the morning, you can be sure it is done and that nothing will derail your calorie-burning efforts. If you are going to bed later just to fit in your workout, you may also be doing yourself harm in the long run. The Harvard Medical School notes that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. If you regularly cheat yourself of this time, you may experience hormone irregularities that confuse your appetite sensors, metabolism and energy levels. You could end up eating more and moving less during the day, which will cause weight gain. Pay attention to how your body feels in the evening. If you are groggy and tired, you may not be able to put all-out effort into your exercise session. Worse yet, fatigue may lead to carelessness which results in injury.

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