Are you an early bird or more of a night owl when it comes to swimming? We asked around 100 swimmers what their preference was, and we detail the results with some of the pro’s and con’s. Is there a prefect moment in a day to swim? Let's find out.
The result was split almost 50/50 between those preferring morning swims to those preferring evening and some also not having a preference. Why is there a difference and what is the reasoning?
Morning swimmers, like evening swimmers, have their reasons why they prefer to swim in the morning. Most see it as a great way to kick start their day. They mentioned that starting the day with a swim gives them a lot of energy for their day.
Morning swimmers love the fact that their exercise is done for the day, if that is their daily exercise. They can get out early and have a good swim before work, feeling good about having done the exercise before the other formalities of the day start. They enjoy the fact that getting up early to swim means they miss the rush hour traffic and get in to work before the rest.
Many morning swimmers report morning high or feeling happy after they swim, and this happiness continues into the rest of their day. Furthermore, swimming in the morning has been shown to burn more fat as it raises the metabolism and so you keep burning calories way after getting out the pool.
Testosterone levels are higher in the morning which is helpful for high intensity workouts and you may feel stronger even though you may take longer to warm up during the workout.
Getting to the pool early in the morning also has some negatives. First of all, the lack of motivation to get out of bed early, if you are not an early morning person, may be quite a challenge.
Getting the right amount of sleep to sustain a full day of activity after a morning swim session means getting to bed early. Getting enough sleep is important as mentioned in our recovery blog. Eight hours of good sleep will make you feel strong and ready for a session. This may be difficult to realise with family or work commitments.
And finally, some swimmers mentioned that they have a lack of energy and feel weak in the morning and therefore not bringing their A game. Having not eaten a lot or anything before a morning swim being part of the problem. A smoothie or healthy energy bar may play an important part to get your system going. The other being that our body is not up to temperature and it is difficult to get it warmed up and may be stiff and sore. A prolonged warm up can do the trick.
As for morning swimmers, evening swimmers also have their reasons to swim later in the day. Most evening swimmers see it as a way to unwind from a busy day and say that swimming is a stress reliever and makes them happy. A few swimmers put their kids into bed and off they go!
Another reason is that some swimmers feel that they have a better recovery due to the fact that they can go to bed immediately after their swim to relax and recover. However, to enjoy better sleep and goodnight rest it's important not to do intense swimming sessions before bedtime.
The most mentioned reason was that swimmers feel stronger during the evening, which is backed up by science. Most people simply perform better and are stronger during the evening which is due to the fact that they are more hydrated and fueled with energy during the evening, and most importantly your core temperature is at its peak. The higher the core temperature the better the performance, hence the feeling of being stronger during the evening.
Being an evening swimmer also has some negatives. First of all, after a long day you sometimes lack the motivation to get yourself to the swimming pool. And family or social commitments can get in the way.
Furthermore, meal timing becomes quite tricky. Dining before training could feel too early, but after training could feel too late. Healthy snacks could come in quite handy here. With an early dinner you could choose to take a post-swim snack and with a late dinner you could take a pre-swim snack to fuel the workout.
At last, a few swimmers mentioned that swimming close to bedtime made it hard to fall asleep. However, this seems to only be the case after intensive swimming sessions. According to research, doing low and moderate intensity exercise within four hours before going to bed has no negative effect on sleep. If any it's a slight positive effect on sleep quality. It's only high intensity workouts that makes it difficult to fall asleep due to the fact that the heart rate stays increased by around 20 beats per minute the first one to two hours after the session.
It doesn’t matter when you swim, as long as you swim. You may prefer morning or evening sessions and that is the beauty of being a swimmer and human. Go swim whenever you want and enjoy it!
Written by Michael Stolt and Saskia Postma