What is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?
When Should You Work Out?
Everyone knows that exercise is good for your health. It helps you control your weight, it boosts your mood and it makes your body strong, faster and better able to function correctly. But what is the best time of day to exercise? The truth is that it depends. There are benefits to exercising in the morning, but there are also good reasons to work out in the afternoon.
Exercising in the Morning
Many different people will tell you that exercising in the morning is the best time. In fact, there are several studies that show this is true. For example, a 2010 study had groups of men eat more calories than they typically consume for six weeks. Some of the men remained sedentary for the six-week period. Others exercised after they had eaten breakfast. A third group exercised in the morning before eating anything at all. At the end of the six weeks, the men who exercised first thing in the morning (before eating anything) gained only very little weight while the other groups gained much more.
The theory here is that exercising first thing in the morning “boosts” your metabolism and helps your body burn calories throughout the day.
Exercising in the morning can also help you sleep more soundly at night (since the boost you get from exercising helps you get through the day, not keep you up at night). It can also reduce your stress levels throughout the day.
Exercising in the Afternoon
However, there are advantages to afternoon exercise as well. Your body’s temperature slowly increases throughout the day, so muscle strength and endurance may peak in the afternoon when your body is its warmest. Your heart rate and blood pressure levels are typically lower in the afternoon as well, which can help your workouts.
Keeping it Consistent
Ultimately though, the best time of day to work out can depend on the individual. Everyone has a different “body clock” and different people feel like exercising (and will perform better) at different points in the day. Trying to fight your body likely won’t be helpful. If you struggle to get up in the morning and find it incredibly difficult to work out before you head out for the day, you won’t enjoy your workouts and you’ll be much less likely to continuing doing them.
Exercising when it feels right for you (and when it fits into your schedule) is much better than not exercising at all because you can’t do it at “the perfect time.”
In addition, consistency is important. Some research suggests that, by sticking to the same time each day to exercise, your body will adapt and begin functioning better at this time of day.