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Exercise Column

Shifting workouts - shifting rhythms

Unfortunately, most of us have to work training into work and family schedules. We often don't have to opportunity to train when our body responds best to the stress of working out.

People often fall into two categories as a "afternoon / evening" person or a "morning" person. Much of that is based on physiological rhythms or circadian rhythms - based on the cyclic levels of your body's systems and hormones.

Some people learn, work, and perform best in the morning and struggle in the afternoon and at night. Others struggle to get out of bed let alone exercise at high intensity early in the day yet build energy throughout the day and a raring to go once work or their day is over.

Circadian rhythms effect mental as well as physical capacities.

People who work swing shifts or who constantly change working shifts experience difficulty during the first few weeks of change. Much like what occurs with jet lag when flying across time zones. Your body has been "thrown out of whack".

Switching exercise times can be hard, especially initially. Getting timing of eating down can be rough.

For those working out later they need to figure out how to time lunch or dinner and not be too hungry when working out or to stuffed from a meal.

Those who exercise first thing in the morning often do so without time for a meal two hours prior to the start of the workout. Therefore, their glycogen stores are semi-depleted. Particularly their liver glycogen stores. One easy option is to drink a meal replacement shake right before heading out the door. This provides both fuel for the workout and liquid to aid in hydration.

Another option is to eat while working out. This should actually be done whenever you workout to utilize blood glucose as a fuel and to spare muscle & liver glycogen stores.

Whether it be an energy bar, gel, piece of fruit or other solid food, or an energy hydration beverage each source has been shown to maximize performance and aid in recovery and adaptation.

Finally, if you have a tough time getting started (compared to other time of the day) make sure to spend more time doing a warm up to provide you bodies energy, nervous, and physiological systems adequate time to reach maximal efficiency and to allow your workout to be performed more comfortably.
Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 4.04.06