When’s the Best Time of Day for You to Exercise?
Some experts tell you to fall out of bed into a set of pushups or a dead sprint. Others will tell you to wait until you’ve had a good meal, while others will tell you to wait until your highest body temperature. While all of these could be right, it depends on you; what is good for you cannot be cut and pasted from one person to the next. If you want to figure out the best time of day to workout for you, consider these factors.
1. Do you have low testosterone?
Guys have peak testosterone production soon after waking. Testosterone is imperative for sexual function, but also strength and muscle conditioning. If you’ve battled low testosterone, make the most of your workout by hitting it hard in the morning.
2. Do you have weight to lose?
In a 2010 study, researchers found that the human body oxidized fat more efficiently in a fasted state. If you have weight to lose, then working out before breakfast is a proven way to burn fat and increase energy throughout the day.
3. Do you have a low body temperature?
Your body hits peak performance when it’s at its optimal temperatures, which is at or over 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Metabolism is higher with increased body temperature, which means energy is burned more efficiently and muscles will have greater blood flow. If you’ve dealt with low thyroid or some other condition that decreases body temperature, wait until early evening for your workout.
Working out is tough as it is, but when your joints are stiff and your breathing is labored, it makes an otherwise fun workout seem like drudgery. The common wisdom to “warm up” before exercise to reduce injury has been scientifically verified, so waiting until peak temperature will benefit you in numerous ways.
4. Are you a light sleeper?
If you have difficulty falling or staying asleep, saving intense catabolic exercises (which induces stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol) for the morning will be your best bet. Adrenaline and cortisol directly interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep, which reduces your ability to recover from a workout.
Anabolic (muscle building) workouts that don’t saturate your system with stress hormones are perfect for evening time gym sessions after work — just make sure you get enough protein and calories afterward to refuel your muscles and keep you asleep.
5. Do you experience midday crashes?
The post lunch productivity slump is a legendary beast that many of us tame with caffeine and processed carbs, which effectively exacerbates the problem in days to come. Studies have shown that working out on lunch break leads to sustained energy and mental focus throughout the rest of the day.
This isn’t that much of a revelation, considering that exercise increases metabolism and blood oxygen, and that increased O2 leads to greater respiration and more energy. If you routinely face issues and are tired of the Monsters and Red Bulls, bust out some good old-fashioned jumping jacks and pushups after lunch. Better yet, take a colleague out to the basketball courts and have some fun while you enhance your day.
6. Do you have kids?
If so, you’re out of luck, you won’t have the time. Oh wait … kids are actually super fun, and their stamina is through the roof. Those little buggers can sprint for hours and still have the energy to ask for five cups of water and two more bedtime stories after you’ve tucked them in.
If you’ve got kids, you can achieve some quality bonding time and a killer workout if you wait until they get out of school. Activities like frisbee, tag, and football are where high intensity interval training was born, which increases cardiovascular fitness and fat burning.
7. Are you a procrastinator?
Millennia of anecdotal research has proven that the longer a procrastinator waits to do something, the less likely they are of accomplishing any given activity. If the mid- to-late day workout options look appealing but you have doubts about your ability to stick with them, go with the morning workouts.
Any workout is better than no workout, so know yourself best and figure out the time that makes the most sense for your life; all factors considered.
More from Health & Fitness Cheat Sheet:
- A Smart Way to Burn More Calories While You Work
- 4 of the Best Workouts For Men in Their 20s
- 5 Exercises That Will Give You Stronger Calves