How has the lockdown impacted your exercise routine? Some of you might have taken up running, signed up for online classes and others might have given exercise a total break for now – or at least until the gyms are opening up again. 

This time I want to talk to you a bit about how my exercise routine has changed and how I have tweaked my exercise sessions during this period while I have been working exclusively from home.

This is a piece of advice I normally withhold, because many of us are office based and it becomes a bit of a moot point, but I’ve tweaked the timing of my exercise sessions.

Our nervous system: Sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system

I want to explain to you why I have tweaked the timing of my session. The optimal time to do a harder or more exerting exercise session is actually the afternoon. It is roughly between 2:00 and 4:00 PM or thereabouts. And the reasons for that are our nervous systems in the morning are already primed for the day ahead, and it isn’t very good to jack up what we call the sympathetic nervous system (also known as “fight or flight”) first thing in the morning.

It is better to start our day with an activity that is more parasympathetic (also referred to as “rest and digest”) dominant. In other words, something that is more gentle, more restorative. A dog walk, for example, or some time out in the parks, nature, woodland or even bouncing up and down. So I now start my day in a gentle way to drain what’s called the lymphatic system and get the body moving for the day. But intense hard exercise isn’t ideal first thing in the morning. Now, for many people, that is the only time they could have got it done. And if that is the case, no worries.

Flexibility around our working day

Now we’ve got more flexibility around our working day, my recommendation is to start the day with something more gentle and restorative, and do that harder workout at around 2:00 or 3:00 or 4:00, maybe 5:00 PM in the afternoon. And that is what I have been doing. I have been doing the gentle dog walk in the morning, doing the bulk of my work, and then putting my hard exercise session in, or my more exerting demanding session in at around 4:00 or 5:00 PM, something like that.

Grip strength, protein and hormones

The physiological reasons for why that is, is that our grip strength, our protein synthesis, our testosterone and various other hormones that get us really primed for the toughest stuff peak in the afternoon. Numerous studies have demonstrated that that is the best time to do that kind of demanding exercise session. So, if you can, why don’t give this a try? Perhaps you’ll feel differently or perhaps you’ll see further improvements in your workouts.


  • Leanne is an award-winning entrepreneur and the founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. She delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight', is the author of bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine', and hosts a podcast called ’Remove the Guesswork‘. Leanne is the founder of Bodyshot Performance, an award-winning health and wellbeing company. Bodyshot Performance work with businesses of up to 500 people who want to create a culture of energy, vitality and performance through the business and position wellbeing as a competitive advantage. Bodyshot intersect the latest science and technology to provide unique solutions to the challenge of wellbeing in the workplace that have a direct impact on the bottom line. Our clients have won awards for wellbeing and recognise it directly improves employee engagement and retention and attracts talent into the business.  We also work with chronically stressed or burned out professionals to get you back in control of your health and able to do the things you want to do in life. My expertise is around health, fitness and wellbeing, specifically focusing on sleep, mental health, energy, body composition, digestion and fitness. I host a popular podcast on iTunes called ’Remove the Guesswork ‘, and in November 2016 I delivered a TEDx talk on 'Why fitness is more important than weight'. I’m the author of the bestselling books 'Remove the Guesswork' and 'Rise and Shine' and I regularly speak to corporates on health and wellbeing. My personal values are to live truthfully, considerately and to "suck all the marrow out of life" as Thoreau said. I support the charity Diversity Role Models which works to combat homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying. I recently completed the world’s toughest ski race to raise £10,125 for Alzheimer's Research as my father-in-law was profoundly ill with Alzheimers, and I am on a constant mission to find ways to live in a way that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. I love sport, fitness, reading, gardening, business, podcasting, and being with my cat and our scampish little rescue dog, Kami from Romania.