What Time of Day Should You Exercise?
Michal Dabrowski CAT(C) RMT
Our schedules get filled quickly these days and it can be difficult to get regular workouts in. What if you can make the most of your workouts by strategically scheduling them at times of the day where you can get the most benefit?
So when exactly is the best time of day to workout? In Daniel Pink’s book titled, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing he explores the answer to this question. Here is a brief summary of his findings.
The Case for Morning Workouts
If you’re an early riser you may want to start your day off with an exercise session. According to Pink, here are the benefits of working out in the morning:
When we first wake up our blood sugar is low because we haven’t eaten for a few hours. While exercising, we primarily use sugars (carbohydrates) as fuel but when sugars are low our bodies must use an alternative fuel source so we switch to using fats. Working out in the morning can burn up to 20% more fat than workouts done after eating.
Be careful not to workout with blood sugars that are too low. If you experience dizziness, excessive sweating, confusion or shakiness stop your workout and grab a quick snack and wait for symptoms to subside.
If you have very low blood sugar when you wake up consider having a small snack prior to your workout like a banana to help get you going and to prevent some of those symptoms.
Everyone knows the benefits of exercise on mental health, it just makes us feel better and elevates our mood overall. Working out in the morning helps us start our day off in a positive mood and mindset which carries over to the rest of the day.
Working out in the evening will also put us in a good mood but if we workout too late we simply sleep through those benefits.
Keep Your Routine
Studies show you’re more likely to stick to your workout routine when you do it in the morning. We all have our morning routines and I’ll bet they stay consistent for the most part. Add a workout to that routine and you’ll be more likely to stick to it.
A key hormone involved in building muscle is testosterone which peaks in the morning. So if your goal is to build muscle, lift those weights in the morning for added benefits. Just make sure to refuel your body afterwards with a meal high in protein.
The Case for Late Afternoon/Evening Workouts
Can’t fit in a morning workout? Don’t worry, afternoon and evening workouts have benefits too.
We all know we need to warm up before working out right? When muscles are warm they’re more elastic and less prone to injury.
When we wake up in the morning our body temperature is low and gradually increases as we get going with our day. We also wake up a bit dehydrated from not drinking any water in the past few hours. Dehydration combined with cold muscles are not a good combination.
Body temperature peaks in the late afternoon/evening which means our muscles are warmer later on in the day and less prone to injury.
Perform Your Best
Exercising in the late afternoon or evening can help you perform better in your workouts.
Lung function is highest at this time of day meaning you get more oxygen delivery to muscles. This results in peak strength, faster reaction time, better hand eye coordination and overall improvements in performance.
Enjoy Your Workouts More
Once the day is done you can relax and not have to think about your to do list for the day. Instead, you can focus on your workout.
People also perceive less exertion at this time of day compared to the mornings so the same workout done in the morning may feel a bit harder than if you were to do it in the evening.
So Which Is Better?
The answer is, it doesn’t matter! What matters is that you get moving and get your workout in at whatever time of day works best for you.
Remember, some movement is better than no movement. You don’t have to be completely exhausted after a workout session for that session to be regarded as exercise. Exercise comes in many forms and the most important thing is to find something you love doing and stick to it!