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Why Post-Work Workouts Are the New Happy Hour

At some point—was it in high school?—socializing became equivalent with drinking. As professional adults, we're well beyond boozy peer pressure, but there’s still something appealing about the post-work happy hour that makes us want to follow the crowd. But when Sunday Funday turns into Margarita Monday, followed by Taco Tuesday, and Wino Wednesday, it’s probably time to come up with a healthy alternative to weeknight drinking. In fact, studies have shown that the after-work hours around 4 to 6 p.m. are best for peak athletic performance, which seems like the perfect reason to skip after-work drinks for an after-work workout. Here, six more reasons why "healthy hour" is the new happy hour—and how you can easily make the switch. (We're calling it now: Healthy hour is going to be as popular as these 15 Next Big Fitness Trends.)

Binge Drinking Does a Body Bad
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“There is nothing wrong with having a drink with friends from time to time, but keep in mind that one to two drinks per day is considered moderate consumption for woman,” explains Jacque Ratliff, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise (ACE). “This doesn’t mean that if you don’t drink during the week and then you go out on Saturday, you’re able to ‘save up’ your drinks all for one day. That’s considered binge drinking, which can be very damaging to the body and overall health.”

You Can Still Hit the Bar Afterward
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The juice bar, that is! “In order to shift your thinking you’ve got to make it fun,” says Chris Freytag, an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach and group fitness instructor. “To do something that also involves chit-chatting like happy hour does, go for a walk or group class together and then get a smoothie or juice after.”

Workout Buddies Are Fit Friends for Life
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“Although many people enjoy solitary exercise, working out with a partner can be a great way to build friendships and cultivate lasting relationships. For people that may not enjoy exercise, the thought ‘misery loves company’ comes to mind,” says Ratliff. “What people don’t realize is that when they workout with a buddy, they begin to have fun and enjoy exercise and are more likely to keep doing it as a part of their new healthy lifestyle.”

Spin Class Can Be Celebratory
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“You got a promotion, let’s get a drink!” If every celebration tends to be tied to drinking, don’t be afraid to mix it up. “If the happy hour is to celebrate, a group yoga or spin class might be fun,” says Heather Mangieri, R.D. “It’s also fun to grab a friend or co-worker and try new places.” (Start with these 7 Workouts Better Than Happy Hour.)

Workouts Banish Workplace Blues
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“I’ve had clients have huge success by simply taking their running shoes to work and encouraging co-workers to join them for a 30-minute power walk before heading home,” says Mangieri. “It can be a wonderful way to improve office morale, all while getting healthy.”

There’s Always Moderation
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With that all said, you can still go to happy hour! “I'm a believer in moderation,” says Freytag. “I try to follow the 80/20 rule: I do a girls night out with my friends every couple weeks, but I need my workout friends five days a week!” (Maybe try one of these 5 Crazy Cool Yoga Classes to Check Out.)

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