Ah, the age-old question of those trying to build more healthy habits into their daily routines: is there a prime time for getting in your daily sweat? The answer is … kind of. Sometimes. It depends. Are we helping yet?
Movement of any kind is beneficial for the body, but “movement” comes in many forms, some of which may serve you better at certain times over others. Holistic nutritionist and founder of Soul Wellness Method, Shauna Faulisi, knows that the word “holistic” applies to every aspect of our health, so her practices don’t just begin and end in the kitchen. We always follow along with her dynamic adventures in exercise, so we came to her for the secret sauce to perfectly timing our sweat sessions.
“I love a morning workout!” Shauna tells us with a sparkle.
“It sets the tone for the day, and it triggers dopamine, the achievement hormone that you’ve achieved something productive.” Who doesn’t like to start their day with a happy hit … er, HIIT?
“Working out in the morning comes with a plethora of benefits that fuel your day—think of it as ‘An object in motion stays in motion.’ From a biological and scientific standpoint, the higher the dopamine levels in your body, the higher your alertness, focus, creativity, and concentration are throughout the day—all of the key components we need to have a great day and feel really good about ourselves. Dopamine is the motivation molecule that drives you to seek rewards in achieving goals and enables you to take the effort it requires to be successful.
“We’re all different and have different times of day that we feel we have the most energy. For me, I love a morning workout because it sets the mood for my day. I feel amazing in my body, my brain is clear, and I tend to make decisions that serve my short- and long-term goals when I’m feeling good about myself.
“A morning workout isn’t always possible, so I’ll go for a walk after dinner sans phone to clear my head and encourage lymphatic drainage and digestion. Some of my clients do really well with an evening workout and find it doesn’t affect their sleep at all. I’m the opposite [when it comes to high intensity], but I’ve learned to be gentle with myself, however the day plays out.”
If you’re not sure that an evening workout disrupts your sleep routine, go ahead and test that theory! But it’s important to note that higher-intensity workouts increase the release of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can make you feel keyed up before lying down to rest, rather than tired simply from burning caloric energy.
Raising your heart rate closer to bedtime is another factor that can prevent solid, restful sleep from coming your way, so be sure to give your body plenty of time to wind down. Three hours before going to bed is enough time for many, and practices like gentle yoga won’t have this cardiac effect.
“When thinking about movements from a time-of-day POV, it’s important to remember that any movement is important! Movement, one of the six pillars of the Soul Wellness Method, is an important aspect of our being. Movement allows us to shake things up, it gives us new thoughts and ideas, turns our brains on, and can be very cathartic. We are meant to move. This can be as simple as a walk; walking is very powerful,” Shauna assures.
The bottom line? Test it and see which time makes you feel your best based on your schedule, stress levels, and sleep quality. Science has no real preference; you are the director of what feels good in your body.
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