What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

Exercise keeps you healthy. We all know that.

But motivation for exercise varies based on so many things in our lives. One of those things is how we feel when we workout.

Exercising most days of the week should be the ultimate goal; no matter if the exercise was prescribed by a doctor, or a personal trainer. What time of day a person completes the workout should not really matter, as long as it gets done. But, are there benefits to your health depending on whether exercise takes place in the morning as opposed to the afternoon or evening?

What Is the Best Time of Day to Workout?

What Is the Best Time of Day to Workout?

We each have a body clock that determined when we are our best selves. Generally, a person will be a morning person, or a night owl. Then you have some people who are best in the middle of the day. Working against your body clock can work, but its not always the best idea.

Other determinations of when you should exercise are work/school schedule, family life, etc. Some of these things can be controlled, others cannot.

If You Rise With The Sun

Sunrise run

Sunrise run

Most people find it easier to be consistent with their exercise program when they get it done first thing in the morning - before life’s pressures affect the day is really key to consistency.

If you are a sunrise exerciser, then obviously mornings are your ultimate you time. You thrive on getting things done first thing and you enjoy how morning workouts make you feel. Many people love working out in the morning, especially runners. They’ll be the first to tell you how pumped they are for the rest of the day after some morning mileage.

But its not just about sweaty glow. Exercising in the morning helps you to eat healthier throughout the day, which leads to better health habits all day long.

So, if you are one of ‘those’ people, you will be happy to hear that many scientific studies support your morning sweat sessions. A 2012 study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise evaluated how women responded to food after working out first thing in the morning. Thirty-five women across a broad weight spectrum (normal weight vs obese) were evaluated and it was determined that when participants exercised early in the morning, they were less likely to make poor food choices based on great looking food photos, as opposed to when they didn’t exercise.

That means that they were willing to make healthier choices after an A.M fitness routine.

Additionally, on the days the participants exercised in the morning, they also increased their level of movement throughout the day, which also increased their metabolism, which means they continued to burn more calories throughout the day, as opposed as to doing the workout at night and then going to sleep.

Lastly, starting your day off with exercise increases and extends your mood, helps with productivity, and helps with the quality of your sleep.

If You Sweat With the Stars

Sunset bike ride

Sunset bike ride

If the idea of waking up before the sun and taking your dragging ass to the gym makes you want to puke, that’s completely understandable. Its often difficult to get your mind and body right to get anything done before breakfast.

Alas, don’t fret. There are some benefits to saving your workouts to the later hours of the day.

According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2012, “although the effect of time of day on aerobic performances appears to be equivocal, during anaerobic exercises, the effect of time of day has been well established with early morning nadirs and peak performances in the late afternoon”.

Translated into basic English, workout out in the afternoon provides you with the best exercise performance.

However, that same studied revealed that the body could adapt to exercising at the same time at every workout, therefore possibly increasing performance, no matter what time of day the workout took place.

Did you know that a midday workout can provide you with more of an energy boost than the largest cup caffeine? It helps to not only wake up your body, but your mind as well, thereby making you better at your job, helping you maintain a positive attitude and be more productive.

When it comes to injury risk, exercising in the afternoon is best. Your body’s temperature max’s out between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., so exercising during that time means your workout will be its most efficient, your muscles will be at their warmest, so pulls and sprain risks are decreased significantly.

In the afternoon, your reaction time will be at its most optimal, which is best for high-intensity workouts, such as HIIT, sprints, etc. Also your heart rate and blood pressure are at their lowest at this time. That proper blood flow decreases your chance of injury, while improving exercise performance.

Finally, exercising after work helps get rid of the stress of the day, which leads to better mental health.


TIPS

Do’s

  • If you are not sure of the best time, try varying the time of day that you workout. Spend a month working out in the AM, then try PM. If you have the opportunity, try working out with a colleague during lunch. All that experimentation will help you to find out what your body and schedule prefer.

  • Change the type of workout you do in an effort to stave off boredom.

  • Make sure that if you are a morning exerciser, warm up for a good 15 minutes prior to beginning your workout.

Do Not’s

  • Don’t eat immediately after a meal. You should give at least 60 minutes of leeway between eating and exercising. The reason is because the energy you need to fuel your workout is being spent on digestion and you won’t have enough to fuel your routine.


Conclusion

So, as you can see, there are benefits to both morning and evening/afternoon workouts. In the end, the choice is yours.

Morning workout Benefits:

  • People who workout in the a.m. eat healthier throughout the

  • Getting it done, means not worrying about it later

  • Easier to stay consistent

  • Increased metabolism which increased calorie burn

  • Fasted cardio = increased fat burn

  • Mood enhanced all day

Afternoon/Evening Workout Benefits:

  • Muscles are already warmed up, so risk of injury is greatly decreased

  • Midday workouts increase post-lunch clarity and productivity

  • More efficient workouts, increased exercise performance

There is no real evidence (because of the many conflicting studies) to show that people who workout in the morning are better off than people who workout later in the day. So, reality is the best time of day to get your workout done is when you are most likely to get it done consistently. By trying the tips above, you will find out the best time to workout that fits into your life and eventually you won’t even think about it.

Question: What time of day do you exercise, and why is that time best for you?