ANOTHER ARTICLE TITLE POPPED UP in my news feed that promised to settle an argument long discussed, “Is it Better to Run in the Morning or the Evening?” Emilia Benton, for ACTIVE.com, does a nice job laying out evidence and an expert opinion that provides information helpful to someone who doesn’t already have an opinion and is truly trying to make an informed decision.
Here’s another perspective: a person’s home and work life schedules and demands won’t stay the same and neither will the preferred time of exercise. The key to determining that preference is time-pressure, in my opinion. The time of day when demands on time are the LEAST, or can most easily be mentally put aside (free from ‘time-pressure’) will win out as the “best”. It will move around the clock as demands shift around the day. And that includes pressures exerted by weather and darkness.
For runners, walkers, and fitness enthusiasts with families and yes, pets, early mornings won’t be stress free if there are drop-offs at day care or school pending later in the am. The effort to get yourself and everyone else ‘out the door’ or into kennels can crescendo to a frantic rush for even the most organized person. Benton’s article wisely points out that adequate sleep is crucial to recovery, so cutting snooze hours is not a solution to this type of time-pressure.
Exercise at lunch is a blessing to some, especially those who won’t fret about their appearance afterward. Obviously, work demands can shift, and this preferred window of time can close at any point.
The expert says his best time is 2-3pm. It was for me too, for about 3 years when living on the West Coast. I got down to work at home at 6am, when my colleagues’ clocks read 9am. It was perfect for answering emails, creating teaching materials, and reviewing research literature. A 2-3pm finish (5-6pm Eastern time) meant there was still plenty of time to get in a relaxing run on the beachfront or on the Rose Bowl track (yes, lucky me).
Now, in the darkest days of the year I try to get outside to see a sunrise or sunset, or both. I might split a long session into two shorter sessions. This happens to help when weather conditions are not good at one time of day or the other. A very early pre-dawn start is relatively free of time-pressure, so it is a highly prized opportunity for quiet reflection. In the evening, an indoor swim can provide a whole-body tired feeling perfect for sound sleep. In the summer, all-early exercise is best for me.
Benton’s article does not proclaim a best time and encourages each person to find the sweet-spot in the day that allows for mindful exercise activity. Earned Runs urges adjusting that time-pressure-free-slot as necessary. It’s not a one and done decision.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. In 1978 I began participating in 10K road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health and longevity.
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