Should we avoid exercise before bed?

We often hear that we should avoid exercising before bedtime, so what should we do? Resign ourselves to being sedentary, or take the risk of exercising before bed?

Experts recommend that all Canadians do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. Exercise offers many benefits, including maintaining a healthy body weight, preventing cardiovascular disease, reducing the risk of various types of cancer, reducing stress and anxiety, and improving the quality of sleep. In today’s world where there doesn’t seem to be enough time in a day, however, many people can only fit in exercise early in the morning before work, or late at night after they’ve gotten all their work and chores done. But we often hear that we should avoid exercising before bedtime, so what should we do? Resign ourselves to being sedentary, or take the risk of exercising before bed?

It is true that intense physical activity is not advisable within one to two hours of bedtime. However, light exercise such as yoga or going for a walk does not appear to disrupt sleep. In fact, many people find that this type of exercise in the evening actually helps them relax and fall asleep more easily. Others find that even light exercise in the evening leads to insomnia, so they opt for morning workouts. 

There is therefore no right or wrong answer; what works for one person may not suit another. You are the only person who can determine what’s best in your case, based on experience. The best approach is to tailor your exercise schedule to your routine, while taking into account the impact that exercise has on your sleep. If you find that 30 minutes is hard to fit into your schedule, bear in mind that three 10-minute or two 15-minute sessions are just as effective!

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