Exercise at This Time of Day for Optimal Sleep

Tweak your workout time to maximize those zzz’s.

Among its many benefits (decreased stress, weight control, disease prevention, etc.), exercise is important for good sleep. And it turns out that when you choose to work out might your impact sleep. Is it time to change your habits? Find out, below.

Rise, Shine, and Sweat

Morning workouts are usually the best choice for those who want to stay consistent, as getting them done at the crack of dawn prevents you from pushing them aside when you’re hit with the demands of the day. But working out in the early hours has another bonus: deeper sleep at night. In fact, people who work out on a treadmill at 7:00am sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day. Also, if you exercise outdoors in the morning, you’re sure to get a daily dose of sunshine, which can help regulate your sleep/wake cycle.

Happy (Workout) Hour

If an early a.m. gym appointment isn’t for you, you’re in luck: Working out in the afternoon has plusses for both your performance and your shut-eye. Because your body is one or two degrees warmer in the afternoon than when you first wake up, your muscles can work more efficiently, so you have a lower risk of injury and will be more adept at completing complex movements (like swinging a tennis racquet or nailing those Zumba moves). Additionally, afternoon workouts—particularly aerobic ones—may even help with overcoming insomnia, causing you to fall asleep quicker and wake less frequently during the night. This may be because exercise raises your body’s temperature for about four to five hours; after that, your core temperature decreases, which signals your body to start shifting into sleep mode.

When Not to Exercise

For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts in the late evening or right before bed (that means no 9:00pm CrossFit!). The boost in body temperature that comes with cardio workouts, along with their stimulating nature, might interfere with falling asleep. If you prefer to get in some pre-bedtime movement, try yoga or simple stretching, both of which can help you unwind and relax for a restful night.

(But it’s important to note that nighttime workouts don’t have the same affect on every single person, so if they’re not interfering with your sleep, then there’s no need to switch your routine.)

When Is the Best Time to Exercise?

While some people are up at the crack of dawn to lace up their running shoes, others can’t fathom a workout before noon.

Finding the perfect time to exercise is as much about personal preference as it is physiology. Exercise is supposed to feel good—but if muscles are tight in the morning or working out too late disrupts sleep, it can feel counterproductive.

More From Greatist: The Surprising Benefits of Exercising at Night

Afternoon Advantages

Plenty of people tout the benefits of early morning sweat sessions, but if you can’t fit in a workout before noon, don’t sweat it. Research suggests the body could adapt to regular gym dates, so if we hit the weight room every day at 4 p.m., eventually we might perform better at that time than at any other time of day.

These findings are similar to earlier research, which suggests that sticking to a specific workout time can result in better performance, higher oxygen consumption, and lower perceived exhaustion. But scheduling a workout is more complicated than choosing a number on the clock.

Your body’s core temperature is an important factor in determining the quality of exercise. A cold body leaves muscles stiff, inefficient, and susceptible to sprains, whereas higher body temperatures leave muscles more flexible.

Body temperature typically increases throughout the day, so muscle strength and endurance may peak in the late afternoon, when body temperature is highest. The afternoon is also when reaction time is quickest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest, all of which combine to improve performance and reduce the overall likelihood of injury.

Hormone levels are also important in determining optimal workout time. Testosterone is important for muscle growth and strength, in ladies and gents. And the body produces more testosterone during late afternoon resistance training than it does during morning workouts. Plus, the stress hormone cortisol, which aids in the storage of fat and reduction of muscle tissue, peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day and during exercise. But early birds, take heart: Morning workouts can be successful too.

More: 10 Tricks to Get You Up for Your Morning Workout

‘The first thing to consider is what is most important to you and what you are actually able to consistently do.’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

We are all time-poor, so fitting in a workout at any point during our hectic daily schedules feels like a win.

But is there a perfect time to get a sweat on? Can the time that you choose to workout impact how effective it is for your body and overall health?

Some people swear by earl morning HIIT classes, but for others a late-night weights session when the gym has mostly emptied is the perfect time to get in the zone.

We asked the experts to find out if there is any truth in the claim that the perfect time of day can supercharge your workout.

Ultimately, it depends what your goals are.

‘The best time to exercise may be perceived from varying points of view, but the two main ideals would usually take into consideration whether you are training for performance or simply for lifestyle convenience,’ explains Lawrence Price, Fiit trainer.

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‘The first thing to consider is what is most important to you and what you are actually able to consistently do. After all, consistency is the key so don’t set a time of day that is unrealistic over the longer term.’

We have already written about how to maintain consistency with your workout plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

‘The key is to take some time to self-assess when you feel your most energetic.’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

With busy working schedules and family commitments, it’s easy for fitness to take a backseat. So if you want to make real changes you need to be able to build fitness or sport into your schedule in a non-disruptive way.

‘Some people may be better suited to train in the late afternoon for performance, but due to work commitments they might be forced to train in the early morning when they may not be at their optimal physical state according to their natural biorhythms,’ explains Lawrence.

‘In the busy modern world, allowances like this are commonplace when planning your training – unless you are a professional athlete of course! The key is to prioritise what is important for you – training for true performance, or for overall general well-being within a busy working lifestyle.’

Once you know what you’re aiming for, the next step is to figure out what works best for you specifically. Contrary to popular fitness myths, there isn’t one ideal time to workout – it very much depends on a wide range of individual factors.

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‘The best time to exercise will be personal to you,’ says Lawrence. ‘It may also evolve over the chapters of your life. A teenager may find early morning training sessions a struggle but when they hit their 30s, early mornings may become their most effective time to train.

‘The key is to take some time to self-assess when you feel your most energetic and to test that out by training for performance at those times.

How to motivate yourself to workout

1. Book into a class
Booking a class can be a great idea when you are lacking motivation – having an instructor there to guide and motivate you can be that extra incentive you may need to help you complete your workout for that day. There is an abundance of fitness classes available for all interests and levels of fitness – and so many opportunities to try something new.

2. Work out with a friend
Working out with a friend provides extra accountability – you may find you are less likely to cancel on your friends, it also provides an extra social opportunity.

3. Work out before work
It’s a great feeling when you have finished your workout before the day has even begun. Getting your movement in before work has anecdotally shown to boost production levels for the day – and should your day go off track, your workout is already done.

4. Schedule movement into your diary
Scheduling your exercise in your diary like an appointment ensures your workout time is protected – working out on regular days/times can also help establish a routine.

5. Hire a PT
Hiring a PT offers the best accountability there is – as well as a personalised programme, they also provide buckets of motivation and hopefully a lot of fun along the way.

Hannah Lewin, personal trainer

‘Some people love to train early morning on an empty stomach, for example, whereas I have personally discovered that I train best late morning after I have allowed my breakfast to digest.’

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Lawrence says that even when you know what works best for you, training outside of those windows isn’t exactly going to do you any harm. He explains that when he is doing ‘maintenance’ training sessions he will often workout outside of his optimum time periods.

‘But if I want to participate in a high-performance training session, such as a CrossFit open workout, then I will plan accordingly and specifically identify my prime to train to hit it,’ he explains.

‘On the other side of the coin, if I am training for general fat loss and not performance, then I will most likely want to keep my medium-low energy output ticking over during a 24hr period. Meaning I will do a light training session in the morning before breakfast and then again in the late afternoon or evening.

‘Training times are therefore both personal and goal-specific.’

Ultimately, if you know your goals and you know yourself – figuring out the best time to workout should be obvious. It will be when you feel most up for it.

Just like how some people are chipper in the mornings and others are sociable night owls – working out is the same. So don’t worry, you can’t really damage your progress by working out at the ‘wrong’ time.

It’s the fact that you’re working out at all that is important.

MORE: This Pilates workout could improve your sex life

MORE: How to work out like a professional footballer

MORE: This simple kettlebell workout works every muscle group in your body

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Exercising consistently is half the battle

The bottom line is the best time to work out is during a time that you can stick with that also feels best for you. Marcus, Martinez, and Tills all agree that consistency is key. “Our bodies are hardwired for routine and habits, so if you create a consistent routine for your workout times, this will yield positive results,” Martinez says. Be careful to allow enough rest time between workouts if you do vary the time you exercise each day. “Harder workouts, such as heavier strength training, require at least 48 hours of rest between sessions,” Marcus says. “So, for example, working out Wednesday morning after a Monday night workout may not be adequate time for proper recovery.”

Staying consistent with workout timing may help you make sure it gets done daily, but remember, if you can’t exercise in the morning and need to work out at night it’s not a waste, Tills says. Your body will still respond even to these quick 60-second workout moves you can almost always sneak in.

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When Is the Best Time to Work Out? (Science-Backed Answer)

Since you already know you need to be active, the next question is when is the best time to work out?

This article will look to answer that question in regards to the best time of day to workout and if training at specific times is better than others.

What Are the Benefits That Come from Working Out?

If you’ve been committed to the same workout routine for a while, you may forget why you were even doing it in the first place. Looking good is usually at the top of everyone’s list, and that’s still a valid reason. But here’s a quick refresher on just SOME of the many benefits that come from keeping your body active:

  • Improved lean muscle mass
  • Decreased body fat
  • Stronger bones
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Better insulin sensitivity
  • Natural hormone production such as testosterone and human growth hormone that contribute to anti-aging
  • Stress relief
  • Improved creativity
  • Better sleep each night
  • Combats depression

Honestly, this list could go on for a while, but you can see how beneficial even just a few of these things can be to your overall health and wellness. So with this in mind, let’s take a look at the question of when is the best time to work out.

Is It Best to Workout in the Morning or Night?

If you’re a morning person, this can be an easy decision as you are probably already working out first thing. If you’re not a morning person, you may want to start considering it. Working out in the morning is not just a good way to get you up and running for the day, but it can have some benefits for the very end of the day. When you get active first thing, your circadian rhythm becomes better engaged. This is your biological clock and it can be thrown off pretty easily.

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If you stay up too late at night, you don’t give it a chance to run properly. Working out in the morning helps to set things in motion, which means it will wind down right when you’re needing to go to sleep. This is beneficial because it will improve the quality, and quantity of your sleep. Falling asleep will be easier as will staying asleep.

Research from Johns Hopkins found that morning workouts improved slow-wave sleep, which is the deep restorative sleep you need to recover and rejuvenate your body. The morning workout also raises your body temperature which is a signal to the body that it’s time to wake up. The rise in core temperature that comes from exercise will help wake you up and increase alertness.

If you can only workout at night, you may want to keep things less intense. Whereas working out first thing can wake you up and jumpstart your energy, the same thing can happen at night making falling asleep difficult. We’ll get more into this in a bit.

What Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

So working out in the morning looks pretty beneficial, but when exactly is the best time? If you’re looking for weight loss and calories burning, the research shows that there is no best time of day to workout. If you’re looking to feel better and more energized, the morning is still going to be best. Not only that, but exercising in the morning makes it more likely that you are going to stick with it and be consistent.

You also need to look at what type of exercising you are doing to find the ideal time. If it’s regular cardio such as running or walking, you should be good to go first thing when you wake up. If you are engaging in more high-intensity exercise such as strength training, HIIT training, circuit or boot camps, you may want to wait for a bit after you wake up.

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Depending on your schedule, this may or not be possible. If it is, you can wait an hour or two after a light breakfast to participate in a more engaging workout. You may also want to do some low-intensity cardio first thing in the morning and save the high-intensity stuff for lunchtime or after work.

So the best time of day to workout will depend on your goals. If you want to lose body fat, earlier in the morning will be best and it will keep your metabolism burning throughout the day. If your goals are primarily strength and muscle-based, you could wait until the late afternoon. This is the time of day when your hormone levels are higher – specifically testosterone – and this is when strength levels can peak.

Whichever time you can commit to, it’s important to stay consistent with it as research shows this will lead to better performance, improve oxygen consumption, and lower exhaustion rates.

Is It Better to Exercise on an Empty Stomach?

You may not be a big breakfast eater or even feel like eating that much before a workout. If your morning workout is less-intense, you should be fine working out on an empty stomach. You need to remember that you still will have muscle energy in the form of glycogen stored in your liver and muscles from the carbohydrates you ate the night before. Don’t go longer than 20-30 minutes though, and make sure you have a replenishing meal within 30-60 minutes once you are done.

If you are engaged in something more intense early in the morning, you want to have something light and easily digestible 30-60 minutes beforehand. This can be something like a banana and protein shake. Remember to drink 8 oz of water about 15 minutes before you exercise, and continue to sip water throughout the duration of your workout.

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The main thing that is important is to focus on post-workout nutrition to replenish and repair the body. You don’t need to eat the moment you finish a workout but, you want to take advantage of the post-workout window to restore muscle glycogen and start repairing muscle. This is all part of recovery, and what you do at the end of one workout helps to prepare you for the next. So as long as you get in some decent nutrition within 2 hours of a workout, you should be all set.

Combining protein and carbohydrates with this meal is an ideal way to jump-start recovery. A good rule of thumb is eating 30 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of protein for every hour of intense exercise.

Is It Bad to Exercise Before Bed?

This will again depend on the type of exercise. If it’s a lower intensity, there shouldn’t be a problem and this may help in getting you to sleep.

Some good forms of exercise before bed would include walking, cycling, and even yoga. If a workout is too intense close to bedtime, your body will have trouble winding down. Your endorphin levels will be spiked and this makes your body awake and alert. It can take an hour or two until these endorphins are washed out. Any intense workouts need to be a few hours before bed or you risk difficulty falling and staying asleep.

A good way to wind down the day can also involve some stretching to help in muscle recovery, relax the body and improve sleep quality. This can be a good time to do any foam rolling or treat any deep tissue issues that you may have.

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Bottom Line

When answering the question about the best time to work out, you need to look at a few factors.

Your goals will be the first thing you want to consider and then what your schedule allows. For general fitness and cardiovascular exercise, it does look like earlier in the day will be more beneficial. It also allows you to not have to worry about eating first thing and could lead to more body fat burning.

If your goals are more strength and muscle-based, waiting until later in the afternoon may serve you better. This is of course not written in stone, and the most important thing is to find the time of day that you are most likely able to commit and stay consistent with. This is ultimately what drives success and results.

Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

Reference

Is There a Best Time to Work Out? ➤ Morning, Lunchtime, or Evening

Basically, training any time of day is better than not training at all, that’s for sure. But is there actually a perfect time of day for you to work out?

What you should know about training time:

What does your biological clock say?

There are quite a number of different studies that suggest that training in the late afternoon or early evening is the best time for most people. The reason for this has to do with muscle temperature, which reaches its peak around this time. Warmer muscles increase the metabolic processes and energy metabolism of the muscles. Incidentally, you can achieve a similar effect by warming up before your workout.

This rise in muscle temperature can be explained by your biological clock. This internal mechanism determines your day-night rhythm and has a big influence on bodily functions that fluctuate over the day like body temperature, heart rate and metabolism.

The perfect training time for you

But, unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple to determine the best time of day to train. Stress, work, eating habits and sleep behavior influence your biorhythm, as does your mental state. Thus, it’s primarily your life circumstances and your preferences that determine what time of day is best for you to train.

To help you decide whether to work out in the morning, at lunchtime or in the evening, we have put together a list of the pros and cons of training at each time of day:

Training in the morning

While for some people waking up is a daily struggle, early risers are good to go as soon as they open their eyes. If you’re more of a morning person, then you’ll enjoy training in the morning.

Pros of morning training:

  • Finishing your workout in the morning leaves you feeling good and energized for the rest of the day.
  • Perfect for early risers.
  • Most gyms are practically empty this time of day, so you won’t have to wait to use the equipment.
  • In summer, it is much nicer training in the morning due to the cooler temperatures.
  • Studies have shown that your testosterone level is at its highest in the morning. This can be really helpful, especially for strength training.(1)

Cons of morning training:

  • After waking up, your joints and muscles are still tight and stiff. An extensive warm-up is necessary to get your body ready to exercise.
  • Generally, people tend to lack energy in the morning. It’ll take a little while to get your metabolism and cardiovascular system revved up.
  • If you want to train before work, you should go to bed earlier the night before to ensure that you get enough sleep.
  • If you’re not a morning person, you’re going to find it pretty difficult to work out in the morning.

Training at lunchtime

Lunch runs or other short workouts at lunchtime are quite popular.

Pros of lunchtime training:

  • You can use your lunch break at work to train.
  • If you had a stressful morning, a lunch workout can give you renewed energy for the rest of the work day.
  • Often, you can work out together with your co-workers. This boosts your motivation and makes training fun.

Cons of lunchtime training:

  • The big problem for many people is the time factor. If your lunch break is short, then you won’t have time for both your workout and lunch.
  • It’s not a good time of day for working out in summer when it’s really hot.

Training in the evening:

In the late afternoon or early evening, your body is running at full speed.

Pros of evening training:

  • Your muscle temperature reaches its peak, thus enhancing your performance.
  • You can work out harder because you have enough time afterwards to recover.
  • It’s a great way to relieve work stress, so you can enjoy a relaxing evening.
  • In summer, the temperature is more pleasant for working out.

Cons of evening training:

  • People often lack motivation after a strenuous day at work.
  • Intense workouts shortly before bed can make it hard to fall asleep. Your autonomic nervous system needs time to return to normal. That’s why you should finish your workout at least one or two hours before going to bed.

The best way to find out what time of day is best for you is to try out different training times and then decide which one is perfect for your personal training.

Need some advice to get started? Take the quiz to find out which training time is recommended for you!

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What’s the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

With our busy schedules, it’s hard to find the time to exercise.

Between juggling a career, a social life, and binge watching the latest Netflix marathon, it can be difficult to squeeze in workouts even though we know they’re vital to our health and well-being.

However, perhaps it would help our overwhelming schedules to know that when it comes to hitting the gym, exercising at certain times can help maximize our fitness goals.

So, let’s find out: What’s the best time of the day to exercise?

The Case for Working Out in the Morning

Logistically, there are many pros to working out in the morning.

First of all, you’ll get your workout done and over with before you even start your day. That means you’ll begin your day with endorphins, and a good feeling knowing you accomplished something before 9 a.m. that some people won’t accomplish all day. And that’s a huge ego boost.

Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about working out later in the afternoon or evening. This can be a relief, leaving time for cooking dinner, socializing with friends, and just plain relaxing.

The Benefits (According to Science!)

Studies support the notion of working out in the morning hours. A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise evaluated how women responded to food after working out first thing in the morning. When the participants — those of healthy body weights, and those who were obese — walked briskly for 45 minutes, they were less distracted by delicious-looking food photos compared to when they failed to exercise at all.

Building upon this morning activity, on days the participants exercised in the morning, they also increased their physical activity throughout the day more so than days they didn’t exercise in the morning. Additional benefits of hitting the gym in the morning include an increased metabolism, which means you’ll continue to burn calories throughout the day as you consume them rather than at night while you’re sleeping.

Other reasons to work out in the morning? Studies suggest that revving up your fitness regime in the evening could compromise your sleep. Exercise increases your heart rate and body temperature. That means that late night sweat sessions could be hindering your ability to get some shut-eye. Studies have shown that working out at 7 a.m., compared to later in the afternoon or evening, may help individuals get more quality sleep at night.

One more argument making the case for a workout first thing in the morning is that exercising on an empty stomach could burn more fat. Exercisers can burn up to 20 percent more body fat when hitting the gym with an empty stomach. This is a much more attainable feat in the morning, before breakfast, than after a full day during which you should be eating regularly!

The Case for Sweating in the Afternoon, or Night

While it certainly seems like the morning is an ideal time to work out, fitting in exercise in the afternoon or after hours has its proven perks. Planning on an evening workout may mean you get some extra shuteye in the morning. But there are other benefits, too!

One study found that your body’s ability to perform peaks in the afternoon. Your body temperature increases throughout the day, optimizing your muscle function and strength, enzyme activity, and endurance for performance.

Between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., your body temperature is at its highest. This may mean you’ll be exercising during the window of time your body is most ready, potentially making it the most effective time of day to work out.

Additionally, oxygen uptake kinetics are faster in the evening, which means you use your resources more slowly and effectively than in the morning. Working out in the morning could also require adding an additional warm up to your routine, which could take away from the focus of your workout.

The case for working out in the afternoon and evening continues. In the afternoon and evening, your reaction time is at its quickest, which is important for exercises like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or speed work on the treadmill. The late afternoon is also the time when your heart rate and blood pressure are lowest, which decreases your chance of injury while improving performance.

While some may caution individuals about how working out at night can disrupt your sleep, one study even found that those who lifted weights in the evening got better quality sleep and slept for longer than those who did the same workout in the morning.

The Verdict

So what time is best? While the science and studies seem contradictory, one thing is clear: Working out is important, no matter what time of day you do it.

What really matters is that you find a time of day that works for you and that fits your schedule, and then stick to it. By keeping your workout regime consistent at the same time every day, you could be making greater training gains. And isn’t that what really matters?

June 3, 2019 | No Comments

There has been a long debate between morning and evening workouts: which one helps you burn fat and build more muscle? Some people claim that morning workouts burn the most fat and evening workouts build more muscle, but is this accurate?

The truth is the best and most efficient workout is the one that you actually complete…period.

Whether it’s morning, afternoon or evening, the time of day you get to the gym should really depend on practicality. For example, when do you typically have free time? What is your sleep schedule like? Is your goal to de-stress or energize yourself? If work starts early (and by early I mean before 9am) then maybe an evening workout would be better suited to your lifestyle. If you start work later and don’t get home before 6-7pm, try giving a morning workout a shot and see if that works better.

In any case, let’s break it down scientifically to cover all of our bases:

Our bodies usually produce the most testosterone (needed for muscle gain and energy) in the morning, however, by the evening, our bodies cortisol levels (a muscle eater) will normalize after reaching the highest levels in the earlier part of the day.

Studies have shown that early grinders are typically able to fall asleep faster at night, however evening grinders raise their body heat thus promoting a more sound sleep (think of it like taking a warm bath before bed).

Morning workouts can provide extra energy and increased metabolism, while evening workouts can provide stress relief and maximum strength.

In conclusion, any workout is the best kind of workout. It’s up to you to decide when you can realistically get to the gym and get it done.

Michaela Youngberg

Sources:

Categories: Exercise, Training, Weight Loss, Workout, Workout Tips

Whether you thrive on your morning workout ritual or routinely spend your happy hours up in the barre (class), as long as you’re working out on the regular you’re reaping the maximum amount of weight loss benefits…or are you?

If You Like To Rise And Grind

While sweating it out in the morning doesn’t technically have any direct weight-loss benefits, Matheny says that getting it done in the a.m. often results in working out more overall per week. “Typically, morning is the time of day when people have the least amount of obligations that may prevent them from getting their workout in,” he says. And that makes sense since a lot of us have had our gym bag packed when a last-minute proposal got tossed on our desk and squashed our cycling class plans. (Learn how bone broth can help you lose weight with Women’s Health’s Bone Broth Diet.)

RELATED: 7 Simple Exercises That Show Results After One Workout

If You Love To End Your Day On A Sweaty Note

Like a.m. workouts, there is no direct correlation between working out at night and losing more weight. However nighttime workouts can help manage stress levels after a tense day, which can boost your progress towards weight-loss goals, says Matheny. That’s because getting sweaty (especially after an annoying AF day) squashes the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to an increase in belly fat.

RELATED: I Hit the Gym in Just a Sports Bra—Here’s What Happened

Tight on time? This quickie workout will help you squeeze in some exercise.

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The Takeaway

While morning and nighttime sweat sessions both have their advantages, Matheny says the most important factor in creating a workout schedule that results in weight loss is finding times to sweat that fit your personal schedule. “The best time for you to work out is when you feel the best physically and mentally,” he says.

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Morning Workouts vs. Evening Workouts: When is the Best Time To Exercise?

by FORZA INDUSTRIES 1 comment(s) Fitness

By Tom Hutchison

Some people squeeze in a run early in the morning, others will have a workout during their lunch break, and some will have a session at the gym in the evening. Generally we all have time to work out at some point during the day, but is there an optimum time for exercise? Could it be that exercising in the morning leads to greater weight loss, or is weight training in the evening better for gaining muscle mass? Read on and you’ll find out.

Morning Workouts

While lots of people believe that exercising in the morning is the best way to go about it, there are many others who can’t bear the thought of having to get up an hour earlier just to go for a run. But with so many people swearing by it, exercising in the morning must have some benefits. A study from the University of New South Wales found that exercising in the morning before breakfast is the best time for cardio if you want to lose weight. This may be because when exercising before breakfast your body has to burn fat for fuel, as your glycogen stores will be depleted after a night of fasting. Furthermore, exercising in the morning will also help to kick-start your metabolism, and help to wake you up.

The endorphins released when you exercise will get your day off to a good and positive start, and help to keep your mental awareness high for hours to come. A study from the University of Glasgow showed that morning exercise boosts a person’s mood more than evening exercise. So with both mental and physical benefits, morning exercise sounds pretty good.

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However, there are some downsides to working out in the morning and these are mainly attributed to body temperature. Your body temperature is at it’s lowest in the morning, meaning that your muscles will be colder and less flexible. You’ll also have lower energy levels. This increases the risk of injury and reduces the efficiency of exercise. So you’ll need to make sure you are warmed up especially well in the morning. Also, if you’re not a ‘morning person’, getting into a routine of morning exercise, and sticking to it, can be very hard.

Evening Workouts

Whilst morning workouts seem to have their benefits, there is a lot of evidence that suggests that, when it comes to performance, late afternoon and early evenings are the best time to exercise. A study published in ‘Sport’s Medicine’ found that exercise performance was best in the evening, and an article published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that the evening is better for maximal anaerobic leg exercises. This rather suggests that late afternoon and evening may be best for building muscle and good for high intensity and power based exercise, such as weight training, and high intensity aerobic training. This could possibly be down to the fact that body temperature peaks in the evening and late afternoon, so your muscles will be warm and ready to go.

Also, a study in ‘Chronobiology International’ found that in the afternoon there are higher levels of testosterone induced by exercise; and with testosterone playing a key role in the gaining of muscle; this is another reason for exercising in the evening. The fact that you’ll be at your physical peak late in the afternoon and early in the evening means that it will also be a good time for moderate cardio. But some studies have shown that there is no difference between morning and evening when it comes to levels of stamina. So whilst it can be said that strength training and high intensity exercise is best done late in the afternoon and early on in the evening, moderate aerobic exercise is just as good, if not better, first thing in the morning.

The Verdict

So, taking the current evidence into account, it seems that there are benefits for both morning and early evening workouts. However, aside from all the research the one thing that all scientists would agree on is that the most important thing is exercising, no matter what time of day. But at least now you are hopefully better informed as to which time of day may be best for what you are trying to achieve, be it banishing the fat, toning up, or just for general health and fitness.

Best time to workout

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