The Pros and Cons of Nighttime Workouts

Pros and Cons of Working Out at Night

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Whether due to your work schedule, family obligations, or simply when your body is at its best, opting to exercise at night might be the ideal way to stay consistent with your workout routine. While you may miss out on group classes or that morning boost before going into the office, being a night owl at the gym has plenty of advantages.

Benefits of Working Out at Night

If you work out at night at a gym, one of the most significant benefits is that it is less crowded. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. What you may not know is working out at night can increase your performance, endurance, exercise duration, and more.

Improve Your Performance

If you feel like your workout is less efficient in the mornings, chances are high you're onto something—there's science behind that! Researchers have determined that muscles have circadian rhythms and that muscle strength is at its highest later in the day.

Some studies have shown that a higher body temperature later in the day contributes to greater flexibility and muscle strength.

Mentally Refresh From the Day

Working out first thing in the morning gives you a boost of energy before tackling your day and less time to get distracted or sidetracked.

But, clocking in exercise after work or a hectic day allows you to temporarily disconnect from the day's stresses thanks to exercise-induced endorphins that positively impact your mood. Research has also shown that physical activity can even help buffer against future stress.

Try Popular New Equipment

If you're working out much later in the evening, such as after 10 p.m., you'll likely have the gym to yourself. Take advantage of the empty club to have a little fun with your workout. If you've been nervous about attempting a new-to-you machine around others, this is a great time to try it. And if certain machines usually have a line during the day, you most likely won't have to wait at night.

Get Better Sleep

Contrary to popular belief, working out before bed doesn't necessarily wreak havoc on sleep—as long as you're doing moderate exercise, like a run or bike ride. In fact, a moderate workout before catching z's can increase slow-wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep. The key is avoiding very intense activity.

Boost Your Nutrition

Much like the exercising-before-bed theory, the notion that eating at night causes weight gain has been primarily debunked—as long as the pre-bedtime meal is small, nutrient-dense, and consists of single macronutrients.

Studies show that consuming casein, a milk protein available as a supplement, before bed may improve recovery and enhance exercise performance.

Downsides of Night Workouts

Unlike working out first thing in the morning, one of the most challenging aspects of working out in the evening and at night is the potential for other plans or obstacles to derail your exercise plans. Here are other points to consider.

Intense Exercise Can Disrupt Sleep

While moderate exercise can benefit your sleep, doing something more intense, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), less than an hour before your bedtime can negatively impact your sleep efficiency and cause you to wake up more times during sleep. If nighttime is the only time you can fit in a workout, try less vigorous exercise, such as light jogging or yoga.

The benefits of exercise are indisputable. More important than what time of day you exercise is how consistent you are with your fitness plan during the week. It's better to focus on progressing toward your fitness goals than worrying too much about what time you exercise.

Lack of Group Classes

While some gyms and studios may offer nighttime classes, many instructor-led group workouts are offered during the day or early evening. The availability of later classes may depend on where you live.

Keep in mind there are perks to working out with a large group. One study found that those who participated in group exercise classes had higher perceived physical and emotional health than those who worked out solo or with up to two other people.

Harder to Build Consistency

A 2018 study found that people who exercise in the morning are most likely to stay consistent with their workouts versus those who lace up in the afternoon or evening.

This finding may be because when you exercise later in the day, there's more time to get sidetracked by spontaneous plans or a lack of motivation after a long day. But everyone's daily routine is different. If you prefer evening workouts, you can build consistency by scheduling your workout and sticking to your commitment.

Nighttime Exercise Activities

If nighttime is the best time to exercise, go for it! Here are some activities that will help you benefit from physical activity and promote good sleep.


Pranayama breathing exercises are one form of yoga that can be especially beneficial to sleep. Some studies show that yoga can improve sleep quality, reducing the number of times subjects woke at night.


Walking is an excellent way to unwind from the day while enjoying valuable exercise. A study shows that the more steps the study subjects walked in a day, the higher the quality of their sleep. The effect was even more pronounced for women.


Gentle stretching at night is a great way to unwind from the day, gain some non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), and check in with your body. Increasing your range of motion can supercharge your weight training. Studies show that an increased range of motion leads to more significant muscle gains during more intense resistance training, particularly in the lower body.

A Word From Verywell

The key to a successful nighttime workout routine is how it works for you. All the studies in the world can't tell you how you will feel with different levels of activity at different times of the night. Consider keeping an exercise and sleep journal. Track what exercises you do and how well you sleep at night. You will soon see trends in what activities make you feel your best.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does exercising at night affect sleep?

    It depends. If you perform very rigorous exercise within an hour of bedtime, you might find it difficult to fall asleep. However, moderate or light exercise can actually improve the quality of your sleep.

  • What is the best time of day to work out?

    Consistency is the key to gaining fitness, so the best time to work out is the best time that works for you. Some people are able to be more consistent with morning exercise. Others are more motivated in the evening, or have scheduling reasons to work out at a certain time. Exercise in a way that feels right and helps you be consistent.

10 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."