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News flash: Evening exercise won’t harm your sleep!

Ready to cross one excuse not to exercise off your list? “Don’t exercise at night” has long been thought of as gospel for better sleep, based on the idea that getting revved up too close to bedtime can interfere with shut-eye. But according to a recent analysis of studies, working out in the evening hours is unlikely to disrupt sleep. Researchers found that moderate-intensity workouts during the four-hour period before bedtime don’t negatively impact sleep. In fact, people tended to get slightly more deep sleep when they’d exercised in the evening—go figure! Vigorous exercise (when you’re breathing heavily and can’t talk), on the other hand, can keep you awake, but only if you work out in the hour right before bed. Your body takes time to recover after exercise, and intense exercise can keep your heart rate too elevated for you to be able to wind down before bed. But in general, you can now think of evening as fair game for physical activity, along with morning or afternoon. Aim to get 10,000 walking steps or step equivalents (one minute of gardening is equal to 83 steps, for example) per day and 60 minutes of heart rate-raising moderate or greater intensity activity like jogging, swimming, dancing, or stair climbing per week at whatever time works best for you.

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