Make fitness a priority

Mayo Clinic gives us 10 reasons to be physically active: activity keeps off extra weight, increases stamina, helps protect us from viral illnesses, reduces health risks, manages chronic conditions like high blood pressure, strengthens the heart, keeps arteries clear, improves mood, helps our well-being as we age and prolongs our lives. Sounds like 10 legitimate reasons to hit the new fitness area in the RSC.

I prefer to work out midafternoon before all the athletes hit the fitness area. Some like to get their workout over with in the morning, which means getting up between 6 and 8 a.m. Others like the late-night workouts from 9 to 11 p.m when the facility maybe isn’t so busy.

What I have been wondering for the past week is, When is the best or healthiest time to work out, and why? If it’s at 7 a.m., there better be a good reason because getting out of bed, especially when it gets snowy and icy out, is no easy task.

I wouldn’t suggest going to WebMD for any kind of self-diagnosis, but they have great information on this topic. No matter what time of the day you work out, you will roughly burn the same amount of calories, but the time of day can have an impact about how you feel as you work out.

According to WebMD, we should pick out a time we like to work out and stick with it, but there are more perks to a morning workout. Plus, we have this thing called a circadian rhythm that determines if we are night owls or early birds. This rhythm influences body functions, which in turn affects our readiness to exercise.

Just because you are a night owl doesn’t mean you should consider a midnight workout session. The body needs time to wind down and prepare for sleep, and exercise can sabotage your body’s readiness to sleep.

This is also why we hear, “Don’t eat past 9 p.m.” because eating raises our heart rate and temperature, which isn’t conducive to a good night’s sleep.

In a recent study done at Appalachian State University, researchers found that those who worked out in the morning (7 a.m.) got a better night’s sleep and spent 75 percent more time in a deep sleep than those who worked out at 1 p.m. or 7 p.m. If that isn’t enough to consider getting up earlier, early birds have a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure during the day and 25 percent reduction during sleep.

However, if you’re a night owl, there is still hope. In a small study, results showed that those who did more complex movements like swimming, running or cycling had a higher power outputs. Therefore, if you do those types of workouts, it may be best to do it in the afternoon or early evening.

Before you go and ask your advisor to revamp your schedule for next semester, the important thing is that you’re working out and not being a couch potato. Whether in the morning, noon or night, find what works for you, and hit that new fitness center.