When the sun goes down, the benefits of your run rise. This is how an hour-long jog could help you run faster, eat less and sleep better.
The night runs of Claire and Frank Underwood are as a part of House of Cards as they are their planning plans. How would they have time to run through the day with ruthless political agendas to pursue and old scores to settle? Runs up after dark become more common with runners on and off the phone. “I spend all day talking about running, but often I do not have time to hit the floor until the end of the day,” says Running Room founder and CEO John Stanton. That could be a good thing. New research shows that night work can have even greater benefit to health and performance than day workouts.
1. It can help you sleep better
People often have fears that practicing late at night would make sleep harder, but studies show the opposite is true. A recent study from the University of South Carolina showed that 97 percent of people who practiced in a high intensity at night found that their sleep quality was equal to or better than when they practiced the day.
Another study at the University of California found that people exercising at night would sleep a mere 30 minutes after their workout. “In many cases practice has enhanced their consistency and ease of sleep,” said Shawn Youngstedt, lead researcher.
The rise in your body temperature with exercise can improve your sleep in the same way you take a hot bath before bed. “The brain area involved in reducing the body’s temperature also promotes sleep,” says Youngstedt. “And running often usually has a calming, anxiety-reducing effect,” he says. It reduces blood pressure and muscle tension, making you feel more relaxed.
2. It can help you run faster
Researchers at the University of Essex have discovered that those who run or cycle at night feel that they are going quicker and work harder (and therefore receive higher rewards) than when they practice throughout the day. One theory is that the dark makes it more difficult to calculate the speed by the objects around you.
“At night, you’re also less tired and more attuned to the rhythm and pacing of your body,” says Stanton. “Coming spring, when marathon time is over, the runners who are in the dark still love how much faster their times are.”
3. You will lose weight
Overnight running will encourage you to develop healthier habits by keeping you out of the refrigerator (most of our mental dishes take place after dinner). “Even when I and I get to my hotel late, instead of heading to the minibar, I will go for a little run,” Stanton says.
To make you more noticeable, it’s a smart idea to invest in a quality night-running gear–and you can now find garments already incorporated in reflectivity materials. It is also a good idea to wear a headlamp, so that cars can show you— and you can look at any lights or bumps that might appear on the road. (These can make a big difference to your visibility.)
Avoid wearing headphones and run as much as possible in a group. If you run alone, take your mobile phone and tell somebody about the route you take. “There’s a nice monitoring tool that my wife and I always use called Find My Friends,” Stanton says. “It’s free on iTunes and means that someone can track your progress and see if you leave the route during your run.”
Go for a Night Run!
Night running catches on from coast to coast. Join and try one of these groups:
1. Night Trail Run Trek-or-Treat
Each fall trail on the Halloween trail runs take place in Oakville and Collingwood, Ont.
2. Night Race
The City parks in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax are covered by Neon at 5 K and 10K.
3. A Midsummer Run Night
Runners dress like fairies and run on Toronto’s shore and after sunset on the beach.