True Self Care: Going to the Gym

Self-care is the latest trend taking almost everyone’s social media algorithm by storm. Although my latest form of self-care has involved staying off social media, my TikTok “For You” Page was largely characterized by daily vlogs, recipe ideas, beauty product recommendations, and other content intended to inspire healthy living.

Nonetheless, I found that most of the “self-care” going viral was surface level, providing temporary satisfaction. True self-care should have some sort of permanence if you really want it to make a difference in your life.

I often indulge in less meaningful habits that I know won’t do much because they’re still important for instant gratification, but I’ve dedicated the most time and attention to being physically active. Exercise as a form of self-care has had the largest impact on my life and my overall wellbeing.

There’s a side of social media dedicated to exercise, but it isn’t as popular as some of the more superficial approaches to self-care as it requires greater time and effort in comparison. While buying an expensive new moisturizer might provide temporary satisfaction, it may or may not do much for you in the long run.

Conversely, staying active and moving your body provides both immediate and long-term contentment–you feel good as you’re doing it, and you feel good in the long run as you get stronger and more physically fit.

Although there are many ways to exercise, many opt to go to a gym to do cardio or strength training. This is especially popular among college students, many of whom have free access to Monmouth’s campus gym.

There’s widespread debate about the best time of day to go to the gym. Scientifically-speaking, working out in the morning is ideal for burning fat and losing weight. According to the American Psychological Association, it also helps to boost your mood and reduce stress throughout the rest of the day.

Nevertheless, exercise performance tends to peak in the afternoon after you’ve eaten a meal or two, thus having a greater reserve of energy.

Socially, there are peak times throughout the day when gym facilities tend to attract a larger crowd. If you don’t enjoy working out around too many people, it’s probably best to avoid the 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. rush.

Regardless of the perceived benefits and drawbacks of going to the gym at different times throughout the day, the best time to exercise is whenever you’re able to. Personally, I prefer to go to the gym in the morning because it works best with my schedule. Likewise, the morning is less crowded, so it’s easier to plan my workouts because there’s almost never a wait for the equipment I want to use.

I don’t care as much about the science behind working out in the morning; I’ll work out in the afternoon if I need to, but the morning is just my preference. It sets the tone for the rest of my day by producing some much-needed endorphins.

I don’t think there’s necessarily a “best” time to go to the gym. Any time that you’re able to go to the gym and move your body is the best time! Don’t get discouraged if you need to cram a gym session in what feels like an awkward or unconventional time. You have to do what works best for yourself— after all, that is the true essence of self-care.