Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Use Your Body Clock to Make Exercise a Daily Habit

One of the hardest parts about exercising is doing it consistently. It’s easy to do that first workout, but the second? Not so much. Sometimes we’ll do really well for a week or two and then drop off after that first burst of enthusiasm.

If this is what normally happens to you when you try to start a workout routine, don’t worry! I was the same way for a long time before I discovered the unexpected key that helped me unlock a regular workout routine: my natural body clock or circadian rhythm.

What is your circadian rhythm?

Our circadian rhythms have been getting a lot of publicity lately since they regulate our sleep cycles. It’s become a well-known fact that most Americans aren’t getting enough sleep, and doctors keep telling us that following our natural circadian rhythms will help us get better, deeper rest.

But your circadian rhythm regulates a lot more than just sleep. As the body’s internal clock, it can also help you figure out the best times to work, eat, and exercise.

Paying attention to your personal body clock could be the key to unlocking that exercise habit you’ve been trying to create.

Experiment with peak times

Most of the debates on what time you should work out settle onto one of two times: first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon (roughly 3-6pm). Research indicates that folks who exercise in the morning are more likely to build a consistent habit, but exercising in the late afternoon correlates with peak physical performance and the lowest risk for injury. In fact, most world records in track and field have been broken in the late afternoon or early evening.

Like everything else in the body, though, it’s all about what works for you. No matter what the studies said, a morning workout time was anything but helpful in building consistency for me. But when I switched to afternoons, a consistent routine developed almost like magic.

I even found that the frequency of my workouts began to naturally increase. I started with a goal of exercising just three times a week, but within a couple months I was up to 5-6 days a week.

Now I only miss a day when something interrupts my daily routine. And I didn’t even have to fight and push myself to get there! My body just tells me every day at about 3pm that it’s time to exercise.

So play around and see if morning, lunch, afternoon, or early evening works best for you. Pay attention to how long after a meal feels most comfortable, and remember that if you work out less than four hours before you plan to go to bed, you may have trouble falling asleep.

We’ll look forward to seeing you at the gym with our other morning, afternoon, or evening regulars!

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