LIFESTYLE

Midnight Gym-Goers Are On The Increase, But Why And Is This Good For Health?

17/10/2014 12:03 BST | Updated 17/10/2014 14:59 BST

More and more gym-goers are choosing to burn their body fat while they burn the midnight oil.

We don’t quite understand the motive - after all, what could possibly possess someone to workout late when they could be asleep instead? However, we're determined to get to the bottom of this phenomenon.

night workout

Personal trainer and nutrition coach at No 1 Fitness, Joshua Silverman notes an increase in the number of clients requesting training sessions at unusual hours.

Similarly, PureGym have noted that 20% of their members now train at night - most of which are shift workers.

But why would anyone want to work out at night?

Unsociable shift patterns

Most of the time, late night workouts boil down to demanding schedules and unusual work shifts.

Adam Elson, 21, opts to workout at Pure Gym between the hours of 12am-2am.

His reason? “I currently work a 1pm-9pm shift in a warehouse. After work I’ll usually go home, chill for a bit and then go to the gym later because it’s quieter and you’re not waiting around for equipment.”

Can't sleep, won't sleep

Meanwhile Ian Plant, 23 from Birmingham used to go to the gym after hours before he started his 9-5pm job.

He tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle: "My nocturnal gym habits depended upon what time I was in work the next day. Usually I would go at midnight. But going at 3am didn't seem unreasonable either."

Another draw for Ian, who suffered from insomnia, was the fact that the gym was quieter at that time - resulting in access to all of the equipment straight away.

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Low self-confidence

Meanwhile, low confidence and self-consciousness are also contributing factors for those who exercise in the early hours. Joshua Silverman says that this is particularly evident with people who have a lot of weight to lose.

“It can mean that they don't want to be in the studio training when others are there too. I often meet clients at really early times to allow for this,” he adds.

Long work hours

Silverman also notes that high pressure jobs can impact fitness hours: “Having worked with bankers and stockbrokers for years, I've seen clients with the most full-on timetables you can imagine.

“And this sort of pace of work is not only the mainstay of those in finance. We're leading increasingly busy lives, and the advent of online working means that many people need to adhere to global timetables and are working well into the night.”

He adds that with the benefits of regular exercise being so numerous: from combating disease, obesity and depression, to boosting energy levels and depleting stress, it doesn't make sense to cut out such an important routine based on time restraints.

And that's why late night and early bird gym-goers exist, because people are beginning to find ways around this.

“Society is now realising that cutting this out is a false economy. Clients are more determined to make time for training, and if this time is at 5am before that 7am meeting, then so be it,” says Silverman.

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Kids

It comes as no surprise that having young children can also influence the time that parents opt to workout.

Parents' typical schedules tend to go "out of the window" once they have kids says the personal trainer. This means that super early and super late training sessions work best. "They grab the time whilst they can,” he adds.

Safe surroundings

Now that it's getting dark outside by 6pm, it’s no longer possible to go on that 10pm run - well it is, but you might not necessarily feel safe. The answer for most? A later session at the gym.

workout night

While we take our hats off to those who are dedicated enough to attend the gym at late-o'clock, we're still not convinced that it's good for your health in the long run.

In terms of sleep disruption, Huffington Post reports that exercising at night doesn't actually keep you awake. This is because most of us don't exercise intensely enough or long enough to counteract the sleep-improving benefits of that workout.

Those who are getting fewer hours of sleep could be risking their body's ability to repair muscle.

According to Michael Twery, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research for the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, says that sleeping is one way your body recovers from damage and protects itself against illness.

Ian Plant damaged the cartilage in his toe during a gym session, and looking back now, he thinks that the reason it didn't recover quickly was due to lack of sleep.

"In general, I thought going to the gym would be more beneficial to overall health. But looking back now, I think it did more damage than good."

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So, how can midnight gym-goers counteract this? Joshua Silverman suggests grabbing a snack such as walnuts or blueberries post-workout to help fuel your body to repair muscle while you sleep.

He also recommends winding down for the evening by watching at least 30 minutes of TV or turning your phone off, sitting and ‘chilling out' before you go to bed.

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Are you a midnight muscle machine? Tweet us @HuffPoLifestyle and let us know why you choose to workout late.