Running at night: tips for healthy habits

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Whether it’s a New Year’s resolution, another birthday passed, or you’re just ready to feel better in your body, there’s no better time than the present to make a change.

If you’ve ever struggled with early morning workouts, why not try running at night to mix things up? Discover the benefits of running at night and not getting up early with our guide below.

NIGHT AND EARLY

Scientists have studied sleep for more than a century. We now know that our bodies have an internal clock that resets itself every day with daylight. For some, this circadian rhythm or the clock ticks faster, which makes them wake up and work sooner. These early risers are known as “larks”.

For others, the clock ticks slower. In so-called “night owls”, the sleep hormone melatonin remains high in the early morning. This makes early morning workouts especially difficult as the body’s systems are still in sleep mode. Night owls often lack the motivation and alertness to perform at their best early in the day and are most productive after 6:00 p.m.

Work life schedules generally require us to get out of bed at 7 am. There is a limit to how much we can adjust our sleep-wake cycles due to the routine of the society around us. However, choosing when to exercise allows for some flexibility. For late risers, switching workouts from the morning to the end of the day can be more satisfying and successful.

Close-up of runner's leg

DO NOT STRESS

schedule a race before breakfast is challenging at best. By running at night, you can declutter your morning routine and focus on the day ahead.

Evening workouts take the pressure off of morning runs and allow you to start the day at a more consistent pace. Enjoy stress-free mornings knowing you completed your run the night before. even before than the early riser.

Exercise has been well documented antidepressant and anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effects.(one) Running at night can help relieve stress and anxiety built up during the day.

SLEEP BETTER

For many people, the afternoon is an ideal time to run; work is over, you have some free time, the kids are in bed, you get up late anyway. Despite this golden opportunity, aspiring night runners are still reluctant. After all, doesn’t running at night ruin your sleep?

It is commonly believed that nighttime exercise worsens the quality of sleep. Experts often recommend avoiding vigorous exercise in the 3 hours before bed. However, until recently this theory has not been proven.

A recent study published in Sports medicine reviewed the evidence on nocturnal exercise and sleep disruption. The researchers concluded that nighttime exercise did not no negatively impact sleep, in fact quite the opposite.

empty bed

Multiple studies have shown that exercise performed within 4 hours of bedtime has a positive effect on sleep, increasing perceived sleep quality, sleep duration, and the amount of time spent in non-sleep. REM.(two) (3) (4) (5) Non-REM sleep is especially important for muscle growth and repair, as well as relieving stress and anxiety.(6)

Although vigorous exercise has no impact on overall sleep quality, it is still recommended to avoid vigorous exercise in the hour before bedtime.(7) (8) (9) This allows your heart rate, core temperature, and adrenaline levels to stabilize before bed.

SUSPENSE EFFECT

Many runners appreciate the change of scenery after dark. Familiar places take on a different quality and there is a sense of adventure and exploration. Street lights cast unusual shadows, his headlight creates tunnel vision, and his brain goes into playful ninja mode.

Take advantage of the twilight zone as your body adjusts to low-light conditions with a heightened sense of hearing and greater proprioception. On quiet streets you can enjoy running with fewer distractions and be more aware of your body.

RUN FASTER

It may come as a surprise to learn that we run our best later in the day. Previously, scientific research suggested peak running time was around 8 pm A more recent study divided runners into “larks” and “owls” based on their morning or evening chronotypes.(10)

The study found that those with a preference for waking up early performed best just after noon, while late risers peaked at 8 p.m. Both groups performed worst at 7 a.m.

Running at night can also feel faster. Our perception of speed is related to the proximity of objects in our environment. In daylight, distant fields draw slowly closer. At night, when we see at close range, fences and lampposts rush by.

KEEP IT UP

Temperature is a key factor in choosing when to run. Running performance is limited in the heat (~30°C/~86°F) and improves in cooler temperatures. For endurance disciplines, ambient temperatures below 12°C/53°F are optimal.(eleven) (12)

Cool night air is not only invigorating and refreshing, it also helps regulate your core body temperature, which in turn improves cardiovascular fitness. This may be why most Olympic records are set at night.

HEALTHY HABITS

We don’t have much time in the morning to watch movies and eat chocolate. This is an evening phenomenon, and perhaps one we wish rather avoid completely.

If you’ve ever tried get out of screen time or junk food, then you know how hard it is. But there is a secret to successful resolutions. A large-scale study of New Year’s resolutions found that those with focus-oriented goals were 12% more likely to succeed than those with avoidance-oriented goals.(13)

In other words, it is more effective start a habit to stop one.

Replacing evening couch time with a late-night run is a great way to build healthy habits — improving fitness, diet, and screen time all rolled into one!

In addition to the benefits of improving your daily routine and getting fitter, running at night can unlock new opportunities for solo reflection and social exercise. Whether you’re going alone or with others, take sensible precautions and consider weather, visibility, and personal security.





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