Whenever you walk by the seawall, what do you see? That’s right, if you live in Van city, the sight of people running or jogging seems to be baked into seawall life. Regardless of the time of day, there are always a couple of people enjoying the outdoors and the view of downtown Vancouver while staying active.
Running provides a multitude of health benefits, including burning calories, improving your cardiovascular health, and boosting your stamina and heart health. However, there’s a long-time debate about whether or not a morning run is more beneficial than an afternoon or evening run. I might be a little biased, but I’m going to make an argument why I think running in the morning has the most benefits!
Better Sleeping Habits
Ever find yourself tossing and turning in bed late at night? Dealing with insomnia or restlessness in the evenings? Aerobic exercise (or endurance exercise) can actually improve your sleep quality and ease insomnia! By exercising early in the morning, you can burn through the boost in energy slowly throughout the day and feel tired in the evenings. Running in the morning can also improve your sleep latency (the time it takes you to fall asleep), which can help get rid of insomnia and restlessness late in the night.
Performing intense exercise (such as interval training) within an hour before going to sleep can impair sleep. This includes a longer sleep latency and a poorer quality of sleep. Depending on how you structure your runs (some people like walk jogs, others prefer hard sprints), if your style of running doesn’t fall into the strenuous exercise that impairs sleep, feel free to go on an evening run. You’ll have to test for yourself to see what feels right. I have some friends that can’t exercise within 3 hours of sleep otherwise they feel too full of adrenaline to get a good night’s rest.
Better Temperature Control
We all know how hot Vancouver can get in the summer, especially the past few summers. Planning runs in the morning can help you avoid the burning heat of the day when the sun rises. Also, there are often fewer people running in the mornings, so you don’t have to worry about maneuvering around sweaty people!
Exercise performance can be affected by temperature. Studies have shown that as temperature increases, exercise performance decreases. So running before the sun fully rises can actually help you run further and feel less exhausted afterward.
Ever heard of a “runner’s high”? A runner’s high describes the euphoria and feelings of happiness following a run. It makes you feel like you can achieve anything. While you’re exercising, your body releases lots of endorphins. Some endorphins prevent muscles from feeling pain during exercises. Another endorphin your body releases is called endocannabinoid. As the name hints, they produce similar effects to cannabis, which can boost your mood! This can carry on throughout the day and make you feel ready to tackle the day.
When you’re running, your body looks for sources of energy to help fuel your working muscles. After a run, those energy stores need to be replenished. This can increase your hunger following a run, ensuring that you don’t miss the most important meal of the day. If you’re worried about eating too much don’t fret! Your post-exercise meal will be broken down and used to replenish all the energy you used up during your run. This decreases the quantity of food that goes to stores.
Improved Bone Health
Running is an excellent way to manage your bone health. Running is a weight-bearing exercise that stresses the bones in our body in a safe way. Wolfe’s law explains that bones adapt to the stress they’re put under and remodel itself to withstand that force. So by running more and putting that stress onto your bones, your bones will grow stronger and be able to withstand more force. This remodeling of the bones can keep your bones resilient to chronic diseases such as osteoporosis.
Not only is running great for your physical health, but it can also improve your mental health and your own body image! Going on a morning run can give you that well-deserved me time that you don’t have in your busy schedule. Collecting your thoughts and promoting your own well-being can do wonders for your own self-image. These factors can also help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness and increase your energy throughout the day.
The location of your runs also affects how you feel. Studies show that individuals who ran outside in nature had decreased anxiety and rumination (that little voice in your head that reminds you of negative things) compared to individuals who ran on a treadmill inside. So look outside before you decide to run on the treadmill in the gym.
Increased Energy Throughout the Day
Do you ever feel groggy and tired the entire morning? There is an alternative to coffee that will wake you up and prepare you for the day ahead. Studies show that moderate exercise of 20 minutes or more can enhance your perceived feeling of energy. This proves that your morning run doesn’t need to be a marathon, but can be a quick 20-minute jog around your local park or by the ocean. Furthermore, running outside can energize you more than indoors. Besides, you get to see an amazing sunrise as you run and energize yourself for the rest of the day.
Improved Weight Management
Everyone knows that running helps burn calories, reduces body fat, and promotes weight loss. But how does running in the morning enhance these effects? Your muscles need energy when they are active. The sources of such energy can come from carbs, fat, or proteins stored in your body. Generally, the easiest source of energy is from carbs. However, if you’re trying to burn off some stubborn fat, running in the morning is great. If you go on an overnight fast prior to a morning run (no midnight snacks), your body is more likely to use stored fats as energy to fuel your muscles as you run. To add the cherry on top, your food intake decreases 24 hours after you exercise, which can also help with weight management.
Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the best time of day to go running!
About the Author: Courtney Knowler
Courtney loved sports as a kid, so fitness has always been a part of her life. From playing on sports teams to studying anatomy and kinesiology in university, she hopes to share her love of health and fitness with others around her. She believes in challenging yourself and forming healthy habits to reach health and fitness-oriented goals