The Best Time of Day to Exercise
Anytime we embark on something new, it’s second nature to want to gather as much information as we can to set ourselves up for success.
This is especially true when it comes to a fitness routine. There is so much information about workouts available at the click of a button that it can be confusing just to start.
One of the most common questions about starting a fitness regimen is, when is the best time of day to exercise? It is a good question because our busy lives often lead us to think about what techniques will provide the best results for the effort it requires.
Here is a guide to finding the best time of day to exercise.
Benefits of Morning Workouts
Why put off what you can do now until later? That is the conventional wisdom behind morning workouts. Carving out time for movement before your day gets hectic and more items get added to your already long to-do list makes exercise easier to check off first thing.
Can morning workouts help you lose weight? One study showed that hitting the gym before breakfast on an empty stomach can help exercisers burn up to 20% more body fat. That’s largely because the body’s hormonal composition in the morning is set up to support that goal, Anthony Hackney, a professor in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, told Time Magazine.
Adding to the case for a.m. workouts is that many highly regarded studies have shown that morning exercise makes you more alert throughout the day and improves sleep quality, which can aid weight loss efforts.
From a psychological standpoint, making one healthy choice leads to making more healthy choices. So practicing pilates at 7 a.m. makes you much more likely to make a healthy breakfast before your morning Zoom meeting.
A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and reported by Healthline evaluated how women responded to food after working out first thing in the morning. When the participants — those of healthy body weights, and those who were obese — walked briskly for 45 minutes, they were less distracted by delicious-looking food photos compared to when they failed to exercise at all.
Talk about food for thought!
Benefits of Afternoon Workouts
One of the greatest benefits of an afternoon movement session is that it may give your performance a boost, since you’ll have eaten at least one meal before you start exercising.
Research shows most people hit peak performance in strength and endurance later in the day, primarily because glucose levels are higher after eating. This is helpful if you lack the energy to exercise in the morning or evening, or if you're trying a more rigorous routine.
Another benefit is that afternoon workouts can help bust a mid-day slump. So if you’re the type of person who reaches for candy or coffee for a pick-me-up around 3 p.m., a yoga or pilates routine can help naturally improve your focus, uplift your mood, and boost your energy for the rest of your day.
Benefits of Evening Workouts
Evening workouts have long been dismissed because they were believed to make it harder to fall asleep and get a restful night’s sleep. However, recent studies have debunked that myth — for the most part.
Research shows that moderate-intensity exercise won't impact your sleep if you complete it at least 1 hour before bedtime, according to Healthline. This gives your body enough time to cool down before you hit the pillow.
The key is to keep it moderate. Vigorous workouts — like HIIT, crossfit, or running — can stimulate your nervous system and raise your heart rate too much, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Evening workouts do have benefits. They help reduce stress after a long day, lower body fat, and increase muscle mass. They often tend to last longer because we don’t have anything to get to later. Moderate exercises — such as yoga, pilates, and swimming — will help you reap the benefits of nighttime exercises without losing any sleep.
Does it Matter When You Exercise?
There are benefits to working out in the morning, afternoon, or evening. But the ultimate benefit of moving your body is exercising itself.
Still, everyday distractions often derail our best intentions, especially when trying to establish a regular workout routine. According to a recent study, people who workout at home are more likely to stick with it no matter what time of the day they have time to exercise.
In fact, nine in 10 Americans who exercise regularly say they will continue with at-home workouts even after they feel comfortable returning to a gym in the post-pandemic future, according to a new survey from Beachbody cited in Fortune Magazine.
The bottom line is that all movement is good for your body no matter when or where you start.
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