When it comes to developing a workout routine, especially for newbies, one of the first questions that typically comes up (this is, of course, aside from which exercises to include in your regimen) is when to actually set aside time to do it. Is it best to perform in the morning before starting your day, or is it better to hit the gym in the afternoon and wrap up your evening with a little hard work? Health experts will tell you, it’s whenever you can do it - and they’re right.
Finding time to exercise amid working a full-time job, parenting, catching up on episodes of Stranger Things, and endlessly scrolling through Instagram and Facebook, can be difficult. So any time you can find to work up a sweat and get your body moving is the right time.
But there have been studies done to determine the ideal time to get your daily dose of physical activity. And while the results aren’t entirely conclusive, there is evidence that whatever hour of the day is chosen does have an impact on how your body reacts to your routine.
From a New York Times article focusing on a recent study of lab mice:
“Overall, the differences in molecular profiles between morning workouts (in mouse terms) and those later in their days tended to signal greater reliance on fat than blood sugar to fuel the early exercise. The opposite occurred when the mice ran in their evening. If those patterns held true in people, it might suggest morning exercise contributes more to fat loss, whereas late-day workouts might be better for blood-sugar control.”
The idea being that working out in the morning is better for burning fat while exercising in the evening may be better for our blood-sugar levels (especially for people with sensitivities). But each has its pros and cons, and exercising at any time is better than not doing it at all.
Studies have also been done with people, and again, a lot of this can vary from person to person, but here are the overall pros and cons of training during the day versus training in the afternoon/evening:
Working Out in the Morning:
● Increases physical activity during the day.
● Increases metabolism throughout the day.
● Sleep better at night (studies suggest that evening workouts can lead to interrupted sleep).
● Physical activity on an empty stomach can burn up to 20% more fat.
● Improves mood and concentration during the day.
● Fitting in a workout before beginning your day can mean sacrificing sleep.
● While working out before eating may allow you to burn more fat, it can lead to fatigue if you do not have the energy you need.
Working Out in the Afternoon/Evening:
● As your body temperature heats up throughout the day, it increases endurance and performance levels, so you are technically at your peak later in the afternoon or evening.
● Later in the day your blood pressure and heart rate are at their lowest, reducing the risk of injury while heightening performance.
● Typically, people aren’t as pressed for time at the end of the day, which can lead to longer workouts and improved focus.
● If done early enough in the afternoon/evening it should actually improve your quality of sleep.
● If performed too late in the day it can disrupt your sleep.
● If you are a morning person, finding time to exercise at night can disrupt your daily routine and actually hinder your ability to focus.
The Conclusion? Find whatever time works best for you and roll with it. If you can experiment, focusing on how your body reacts while regularly performing at specific times, by all means do it and stick to whatever works best. Everybody is different and our bodies respond to things in their own individual ways.
And please remember to always consult with a medical professional before starting a new routine or making any significant changes to your workout.