Working nontraditional hours may wreak havoc on your sleep, diet and exercise routine. If you work the night shift, it is important to find the best time that fits into your schedule. For some, that may mean exercising right before work while for others it may mean working out after a night shift.
It might also be possible to workout during your shift.There's no real best time for the gym for night shift workers. You will likely need to try several schedules to find the one that works best for you.
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Exercise First Thing
If you feel tired, moody or drained before the night shift, exercise may do you more good than that large coffee or energy drink. According to Mayo Clinic, exercise fights stress and anxiety, improves your endurance, concentration and focus and boosts your energy and mood.
Before you head to work, spend 30 minutes performing some form of cardiovascular activity such as swimming, bike riding or playing a sport. Ride your bike to work or take the stairs. You may notice improved alertness while on the job.
Try It During Work
With family responsibilities, appointments, sleep, eating and other activities to care for first, it may be difficult to find the time to workout before the night shift. Instead of cruising the Internet or hanging out by the water cooler during breaks, spend that time on exercise.
Keep a pair of light weights, a stability ball or resistance bands at your desk, as suggested by Mayo Clinic. Perform weight-bearing exercises like push-ups or go for a walk around the facility. If your office provides a fitness center, use the recumbent stationary bike or lift weights for 10 minutes or so.
Workout Before Sleeping
For some people, exercise increases their energy while for others it helps put them to sleep. If your shift ends around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m., wait until everyone is at school or at work before going to sleep.
Spend some time working out or performing light stretches or yoga to help ease stress and tension from your work day then, once the house is quiet, head to bed.
Find Your Best Time
The best time of day to workout for night-shift workers is largely dependent on the preference of the individual. Spend one week working out before, during and after your shift and see which one is the best fit for you.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that you're more likely to exercise regularly if you find an activity you enjoy. If you can't make it to a gym, save time and money by checking out free online exercise videos.
The CDC also reports that in addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, regular exercise can improve memory, help control blood pressure and even improve the quality of your sleep.
No matter which time of day you choose, treat exercise as if it's an important appointment you cannot miss. Team up with a fellow late-night coworker to keep you motivated. In addition to exercise, eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and get plenty of sleep.