Why working out after work has surprising benefits

HOUSTON – A study shows there might be a surprising benefit to working out after work.

Dr. Richard Harris, from Kelsey-Seybold Clinic in Katy, knows a thing or two about workouts.

"I consider myself an amateur fitness guru," Harris said. 

He chooses early morning workouts for that more alert and awake feeling, but he said there are small studies that show a benefit to working out in the evening.

"When they looked at people who worked out in the morning versus people who worked on the afternoon, people doing the same workout, same calories, about the same body type and body mass, people who did work out in the afternoon tend to fill up the little bit more muscle mass and they had further strength gains than people who worked out in the morning," Harris said.

He said that means some people showed more muscle development and got stronger by exercising in the early evening, but not so late that they were cutting into designated sleep time.

"If you work out after work and it's like 5 or 6 and then you're going to bed at 10 or 11, that gives you a couple hours to get those hormones and stress response out of your body," Harris said. "Now, if you're working out within an hour of going to bed, that's probably going to be hard to fall asleep at that point in time."

If you're just looking to be healthy, Harris says who cares when you exercise, as long as you do it.

Stress is another big reason to exercise later in the day, Harris said. The feel-good hormones, the same ones that give a runner's high, are released during vigorous exercise that can help you forget your woes of the day and it's another reason to procrastinate your workout.