Whether you choose to conquer your workout before the sun rises, spend your lunch break burning calories or hit the gym right before bed, staying active is always a smart option. But the time of day that you exercise can have different effects on your body and overall sense of wellness.
An aspect that is key is sticking to a regular schedule. Researchers with the U.S. National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health have found that sticking to a specific workout time can result in better performance, higher oxygen consumption and lower perceived exhaustion.
For those who struggle to keep a set schedule at the gym or yoga studio, getting your day started with a workout may be your best bet. Dr. Cedric Bryant with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego told Webmd.com:
“Research suggests in terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better. The thinking is that they get their exercise in before other time pressures interfere. I usually exercise at 6 a.m., because no matter how well-intentioned I am, if I don’t exercise in the morning, other things will squeeze it out.”
If a morning workout sounds appealing, you may spot Yoga Instructor Priscilla Rodriguez at The Endorphin Effect.
“I enjoy working out in the morning,” she said. “I think it helps kick start my day. But just because this works for me, doesn’t mean it will work out best for everyone. If you are busy, anytime is the best time.”
Here are some other perks of hitting the gym in the morning:
A 2013 British Journal of Nutrition study found exercising on an empty stomach can burn as much as 20-percent more fat than when a meal is eaten first.
The National Sleep Foundation says while evening workouts can boost the body’s temperature and stimulate the body, which can make falling asleep more difficult, working out in the morning leads to deeper, longer and higher-quality sleep when you finally hit the pillow 15 or so hours later.
When you wake up in the morning, your testosterone levels are at their peak, according to the National Institute for Fitness & Sport. That makes morning the ideal time to knock out your strength-training workouts since your body is in prime muscle-building mode.
Michael Hohmeier, a Personal Fitness Trainer at The Endorphin Effect, is also pro-morning workouts. “I prefer to get my training in first thing in the morning, or at least before noon,” he said. “Fitness can set the tone for the rest of your day. If you wake up, get to the gym and push towards your goals, you’ll be more likely to keep the same attitude the rest of the day.”
While breaking a sweat in the AM hours has plenty of benefits, the truth is that not everyone is willing or able to do it. Fear not, because getting your workout in during the afternoon hours has its own, unique perks.
Health experts say your reaction time is quickest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest in the afternoon, all of which combine to improve performance and reduce the overall likelihood of injury.
Body temperature typically increases throughout the day, so muscle strength and endurance may peak in the late afternoon, when body temperature is highest.
Testosterone is key for muscle growth and strength, and the body produces more of it 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.
“Jack of All Trades” Jose Barrera said working out between 4pm and 10pm is the best time for him, but many agree that’s not always the most convenient time to hit the gym.
If the idea of working out before breakfast turns your stomach and your schedule doesn’t allow for a trip to the gym in the afternoon, an evening workout may be your only option. The good news, however, is that exercising once the sun has gone down has benefits, as well.
Health benefits aside, hitting the gym or yoga studio at night can mean avoiding the big crowds that tend to flood the facility once the workday ends. Having more space to be active, try new machines or equipment and workout without judgement can provide an evening boost to your exercise.
In addition to whipping your metabolism into shape, exercising at night also plays a role in determining your food intake. According to PopSugar, many people simply aren’t hungry after completing a quality workout. That being said, you need to replenish your stores of glycogen, electrolytes and fluids. Eat what you can, then start winding down for bed.
Research has found that muscular function and strength peak in the evening hours, enabling you to work out longer than you may otherwise would at another time of day.
A recent report from Men’s Health found that working out in the evening may help ensure you sleep soundly through the night. If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night or can’t recall the last time you got a good night’s sleep, a late-in-the-day sweat session may be just what you need.
The bottom line here is that no matter what time of day you get active, the important thing is to just get active! While each of our staff members has a different time of day that they prefer working out, they all agreed that finding a time that works for you is the most important thing, no matter the time of day!