When is the best time to exercise?

Head of coaching at Westfield Health, Mark Pinches, provides tips for employees on the most effective times to exercise 

As well as being good for our physical health, exercise has a huge potential to enhance our mental health and wellbeing. Regular physical activity naturally boosts mood as the brain releases endorphins – the ‘feel good hormones’ – which, subsequently, can make us work better.

Whilst the best time for a workout often depends on commitments and personal preference, it’s important to ensure exercise regimes complement our work-life balance. Here are five tips to help you choose your exercise time wisely.

1. At least 150 minutes a week
Doing at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week is enough to see a positive impact on performance and energy levels at work. Exercising builds focus, releases stress and improves mood, so it’s important to try to fit in at least 20 minutes into our routine each day.

For those short of time, commuting on foot or taking walking meetings can be a great way to achieve this without compromising work needs. Employers can encourage exercise in the workplace by implementing schemes and activities, such as sports days or step challenges.

2. A little exercise every day
Whether it’s going to a gym class or a having a kick around at lunch, getting into the routine of doing some kind of exercise every day is a good way to keep active. Even if you don’t feel like it, exercising – despite being tired – will help build resilience and self-discipline – traits that are bound to be of use in the workplace.

3. Don’t exercise before bed
Try to avoid doing any physical activity at least two hours before going to bed as exercise will increase heart rate and core body temperature, making it harder to fall asleep. For those who struggle to find another time, keep evening exercise light – such as yoga or pilates – and leave high intensity workouts for the weekend.

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4. Stick to a routine
There is no ‘set’ time to exercise as it is often dependent on the individual and what works for their lifestyle. However, it’s important to try to stick to the same time every day. Try to find a realistic time to exercise instead of struggling to achieve something that isn’t sustainable. A great way to do this is to stay consistent with the time of workouts and treat them as ‘unbreakable appointments’ to minimise cancelling.

5. Stretch your legs
Even if you take regular exercise, sitting down for hours on end can have damaging and long-lasting health effects. The human body is at its best when it is moving, so it’s important to take regular breaks when at work to stimulate blood flow and stretch muscles. Not only will these breaks improve physical wellbeing, but they can also help to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism at work.

For more information visit www.westfieldhealth.com/.

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