Here’s another reason not to skip that evening workout: It won’t interfere with your sleep. Despite a widely held belief that evening exercise harms sleep quality, Australian researchers recently found no such effects.
Not only does 30 minutes of high-intensity, early evening exercise not interfere with sleep, they noted it can reduce hunger pangs. To establish their findings, the researchers put a group of middle-aged men through a series of short, intense cycling sprints in the morning, afternoon and evening. Before and after the exercise, they did blood tests to document appetite-related hormones. They also performed multiple sleep tests on the participants.
Exercising later in the day also may be more beneficial for reducing hunger pangs. The participants’ afternoon and evening workouts were associated with greater reductions of a hunger-stimulating hormone.
The findings are the second in recent months that show no link between evening exercise and sleep quality. Swiss researchers analyzed 23 studies involving evening exercise and sleep and concluded working out during the four hours before going to bed had no effect.
The Australian researchers cautioned against extrapolating the findings to other population groups because sleep habits and appetite are strongly influenced by age and gender. In the future, they want to conduct similar studies involving women.
In addition to puncturing a myth about nighttime exercise, the study showed that participants’ cycling power was greater in the afternoons and evenings than in the morning.
So, when it comes to exercise, don’t use the clock as an excuse. Just lace up your sneakers and get out there.