The early bird gets the workout worm… or does it?

The various pros and cons of morning and night workouts

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The early bird gets the workout worm… or does it?

By Emma Ryan, Collegian Contributor

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Being a college student comes with a slew of time-consuming responsibilities. Between class, homework and extracurriculars, there’s barely enough time to eat and sleep, let alone fit in a good workout. If you are a frequent flyer at the Recreation Center, you might be wondering when it’s best for you to workout. There’s a lot to take into consideration, including how busy the Rec Center can get, when it works best into your schedule or when it’s physiologically best for your body to exercise.

Although it’s amazing that University of Massachusetts students are provided with a beautiful workout facility, sometimes going to the Rec Center just isn’t worth it because it gets so packed with other students trying to fit in a workout. The gym generally isn’t too busy when it opens at 6 a.m. on but becomes busy around 10 a.m. It also tends to be less busy from about 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and there’s a lull from about 8 p.m. to close, which is at 12 a.m.

On the flip side, fitting in a workout between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. or between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. can be tricky and will usually involve a lot of waiting for equipment, making you less motivated to be there and have a good workout. On the weekends, the Rec Center opens later and closes earlier, which makes predicting traffic a toss-up. On one hand, there is less time for people to go with lots of students prioritize having fun, relaxing and catching up on homework during their weekends, so they might not squeeze in a weekend workout.

Timing is key when it comes to workouts. Do you get it over with in the morning? Do you save it for later to blow off some steam from your day? There are advantages and drawbacks to both options, but ultimately, it’s a matter of choosing the time of day that will allow you to be consistent with your workouts; consistency is key to seeing results.

We’ve all heard “the early bird gets the worm”, and it’s true that there are many benefits to working out in the morning. Chances are you’ll have much more energy for your workout because your day is just starting, you haven’t expended energy on daily activities like homework, classes, studying and extracurriculars, and any pressure from these activities has not weighed down on you yet. Not only will you start with more energy, you’ll have more energy for the rest of your day and benefit from a good mood due to the endorphins released during exercise. In addition to feeling energetic throughout your day, it’s proven that people who exercise early will subconsciously make healthier choices throughout the rest of their day. The idea is that you started off by making a healthy choice, so you want to keep the habit up in other daily activities, like what you choose to eat. Getting your workout out of the way early also ensures that it won’t interfere with any night time activities. You’re free to get dinner with your friends or enjoy a night out without having to worry about being late due to your sweat session.

On the flip side, working out relatively close to the time you wake up risks stiff joints which would require a longer warm up before your actual workout. As long as you don’t mind some light cardio and stretching (that your body will benefit from anyways) give working out in the morning a try!

Some of us just can’t get up at a reasonable time to fit in a morning workout, which, with all the late nights we endure as college students, is completely understandable. Night workouts can act as a great stress reliever if you’re someone who needs to blow off steam from daily anxieties. Getting to the gym is half the battle, so if the only time you can get yourself to go is in the evening, so be it.

However, it has been proven that people who attempt to fit in exercise at the end of their day are less consistent with getting to the gym due to harder or longer days than they had anticipated. You’ve already expended mental and physical energy getting yourself to class and doing homework or studying, which leaves less energy to devote to your workouts.

Research shows that morning workouts are more beneficial than night workouts, but getting exercise at any time of day is good for your health and wellbeing. The best time of day for you to workout is up to your personal preference. Figure out when you’re most motivated to have a good workout and when you’ll be the most consistent with making it to the gym, and you’ll have a steady workout routine in no time.

Emma Ryan is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at [email protected]