What is the Best Time of Day to Workout?

Does the early bird always catch the worm? In the world full of fitness enthusiasts, many experts believe that morning workout hold greater advantages than those in the evening while other fitness professional believe the opposite to be true. While many people swear by an early morning jog to get their hearts racing and get them psyched up for the day, some won’t break a sweat before noon, preferring a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. So what is the best time of day to workout? Is there any particular time of the day that’s best to exercise? Does it even matter? Let’s take a look at the advantages of both sides of the argument so you can decide what’s best for you.

The Perks of Morning Workouts

Group of women working out in fitness studioAlthough there’s no reliable evidence to suggest that calories are burned more efficiently at certain time of day, however, the time of day can influence how you feel when exercising. So it would be wise to choose a time of day you can stick with so that exercise becomes a habit. That being said, morning may be your best time to exercise.

Studies suggest that if you want to lose fat, the best time to exercise is in the morning before breakfast. Research suggests in terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better.

What is the reason behind that working out first thing in the morning helps burn more calories? Or at least protects the body from gaining? It’s that it pushes the body to tap into its fat reserves for fuel, as opposed to simply burning off your most recent snack or meal. Scientifically speaking, the body effectively run out of carbohydrates or sugars for fuel and it switches to burning fuels instead. The releases the substance that turns on the fat cells to release their fats. Many research findings on morning workouts suggest that early exercisers are more likely to stick with a fitness regime than those who leave it until later in the day.

Early Birds, Hands Up!

Additionally, it’s easier for an individual to stay on track with a fitness regime first thing in the morning because there’s relatively less time for family, evening plans, commuting, night shifts in the office, and other distractions getting in the way. Fatigue from a long tiring day can also lead to skipped evening workouts. Plus, mornings see less traffic making morning workouts more efficient. And while there may be an influx of gym-goers in the morning, these patrons tend to get in and out within a particular span of time, leaving no room for socialization and clogging up the gym floor.

Morning workouts might also be a good option for stress-free snoozing. Since exercise increases heart rate and body temperature, working out late in the evening (normally after 8 PM) may disrupt sleep, while many studies suggest that working out first thing in the morning may help you sleep more soundly at night. At least 45 minutes of moderate morning exercise or walking on the treadmill might help curb appetite directly after working out. Research also shows that people burn up to 20 percent of more body fat exercising on an empty stomach, which is much easier to do first thing in the morning.

Advantages of Evening Exercise

Best Time of Day to WorkoutOn the contrary, if you want to gain muscle mass, exercising later might be your best option because working out in the evening is a good way to gain strength and that’s why fitness trainers like weightlifters work out in the evenings. The body muscles have warmed up by the evening and certain hormones that are necessary for muscle resistance work are optimal at this time.

Evening workouts might also help you to regulate the amount of food you feel like eating for dinner, which is in fact beneficial if you tend to eat big meals at night. Plus, it can also be a great stress reliever after a busy day at work or home.

Research suggests the body could adapt to regular gym dates better, so if you hit the weight room every day, let’s say 4 PM, eventually you might perform better at that time than at any other time of the day. Earlier research says 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. That being said, an individual who works out later in the day has the opportunity to eat and fuel the body for a more intense workout.

I’m the Night Owl!

Your body’s core temperature plays an important role in determining the quality of your exercise. A cold body leaves muscles stiff, inefficient, and susceptible to sprains, whereas higher body temperatures leave muscles more flexible. The body temperature typically increases throughout the day, so muscle strength and endurance may peak in the late afternoon, when the body temperature is at its peak. That time is also when reaction time is quickest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest, all of which combine to improve performance and reduce risks of injury.

working-out2Working out after work can also be beneficial. You’ll likely have more energy than if you try to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. And since research suggests that you only need a 20-minute endorphin burst to unwind, fitting in a quick workout session can help you relax after a rough day at the office.

Hormone levels are also important in determining optimal workout time. Testosterone is crucial for muscle growth and strength, in both males and females. The body produces more testosterone during late afternoon resistance training than it does during early 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. The best way to see if evening workout works or doesn’t work for you is to try it and see how you feel about it.

The Bottom Line

Well, the most important thing is not so much the time of day that you exercise, but that you actually do it – and do it on a regular basis. Remember, consistency is the key, so find the time that allows you to stick to a regular routine.

The best plan to prevent increases in body weight is obviously to combine a healthy, well-balanced diet with an active lifestyle. Keeping that in mind, you don’t have to exercise first thing in the morning, if it’s not just your cup of tea. So don’t stress if you’re not an early bird. The most important thing is to find a consistent workout schedule, no matter what the time.

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