Morning, Noon, or Night: When is the Best Time to Exercise?

winter run, morning, snow, exercise

Source: iStock

We’ve all been there -– dreading getting out of bed in the morning. We think it may be the proactive thing to do, but let’s face it: many of us aren’t morning people.

Well, your body’s circadian rhythm determines whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, and unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to change it. Circadian rhythm is “governed by a 24-hour pattern of the earth’s rotation,” according to WebMD, and influence body functions such as blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels, and heart rate. Your body clock, in addition to work and family schedules, is a great way to determine at what point of the day is best to workout.

There’s no reliable scientific evidence that proves there is one best time of the day to workout and to lose weight or gain muscle, but determining a consistent schedule that works for you is going to be most effective. According to Heart.org, some suggest that working out in the morning is best to boost your metabolism, but the differences are minor compared to the effect of consistent workouts.

“If you’re not a morning person, it does no good for you to try to get up at 5 in the morning to work out,” Russell Pate, Ph.D., professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, tells Heart.org. “Try to stack as many cards on your side of the table as possible by doing what’s most likely to work for you. The converse is, don’t make it as hard as it doesn’t have to be.”

Sometimes forcing yourself out of bed is good. Do you feel better when you do muster the courage to jump out of bed in the morning? If so, get a pot of coffee ready, set out your workout clothes, shoes, and belongings for an easy way to jumpstart your workout. You may find that getting yourself up out of bed a little bit earlier is advantageous to how you feel throughout the day. If not? Forget it.

waking up, stretching

Source: iStock

The bottom line: Listen to your body and discover when you have the most energy. At that point is it the best time to workout. Research shows that consistency is key when it comes to the most benefits we get from workouts. Here are some benefits of morning, noon, and evening workouts if you just can’t figure out what time works best for you.

Benefits of morning workouts

If you are a morning person – or trying to become one – morning workouts are great for consistency. When you leave your workouts for during or after work, you are leaving them to chance. What if you happen to be working through lunch, working late, or your kid becomes sick? There really is no telling what your day will look. Working out too late (after 8 p.m.) may also disrupt sleep, breaking your body’s natural sleep cycle.

A study published in 2012 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise measured how women responded to food after morning exercise. The study found that after a brisk 45-minute walk they were less distracted by crave-inducing food photos than when no exercise was completed. If you hit the gym in the morning, some studies show that your metabolism will increase and cause you to burn more calories throughout the day.

If you workout in the morning, remember to warm up your muscles because they are tight and cold from sleep.

Benefits of noon workouts

sleeping

Source: iStock

Turns out, studies have shown that by working out midday, you can increase your productivity and stamina. Studies have also shown that a moderate cardio workout can deliver a two-hour creativity boost. Another study showed a 5 to 10% improvement in cognitive function for those who sweat it out during the day. When you are stressed or discouraged at work, heading to the gym, or getting up to walk from 20 to 3o minutes, can increase creativity, productivity, stamina and reduce stress. Talk about a power lunch break!

Benefits of evening workouts

The body’s core temperature is important in determining a time. Body temperatures are colder in the morning and get warmer as the day goes on. By the time the afternoon rolls around, our muscles are more flexible, causing muscle strength and endurance to peak in the afternoon. The afternoon is also when reaction time is the quickest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest. These factors all contribute to improving performance and reducing the likelihood of injury.

The stress hormone cortisol peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day, and when our cortisol is low, we are more likely to gain lean muscle and lose weight.

More from Health & Fitness Cheat Sheet:

More Articles About:   , , ,