When Is The Best Time Of Day To Be Active?

You may think that exercising has the same benefits regardless of the time of day, but this is not necessarily true. Different times can provide various benefits when exercising. So when is the best time of day to be active?

Let’s take a look at both the pros and cons of morning and evening exercise. 

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Be Active?

Is There A Better Time Of Day To Exercise?

The debate about what time of day is best to exercise has been going on for a long time. Some swear by a morning workout while others argue that afternoon or evening is preferable. 

Whichever you choose there can be pros and cons for each, but the important thing is that you exercise on a regular basis. The benefits to your health from consistent physical activity are extensive. 

Exercise improves your heart health, boosts your mood, strengthens your muscles and releases feel good chemicals into your body. Bearing all this in mind does it really matter what time of day you choose to exercise? 

Well, yes. There is scientific evidence backing up the case for both morning and evening workouts. The pros and cons of each may help you decide which time of day is best for you personally and for your workout goals. 

While exercise is hugely beneficial we each have different reasons for working out. Some of us are trying to lose weight, others are training for an event while most do it to maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve their overall health. 

Of course with busy lives the time of day we choose to exercise may be dictated by other commitments such as work, or children. 

Advantages Of Being Active In The Morning

Many studies have shown that there are distinct benefits from working out in the morning. 

Establishing A Fitness Routine

Exercising in the morning can lead to creating a habit that will form part of your daily routine. Just like brushing your teeth is an automatic part of your morning, so exercise can quickly become something that you automatically do. 

Improves Sleep

If you wake early to exercise, this habit can shift your circadian rhythm. This makes your body naturally more alert in the morning and facilitates deeper sleep at night. Exercising in the morning can improve your quality of sleep too. 

May Burn More Fat

If your exercise goal is to lose weight morning workouts on an empty stomach have been shown to burn more fat. The increased metabolism from early exercise can last through the day and continue to burn more calories. 

Sets Your Mood For The Day

Exercise releases endorphins and this will boost your mood setting you up for the rest of the day. You will also have a sense of accomplishment from rising early and getting your workout done first thing in the morning. 

May Improve Productivity

Physical activity raises your energy levels, so morning exercise can have a positive effect on your productivity for the rest of the day. It can also help you to focus, keep you alert and help with decision-making. 

Lowers Blood Pressure

Some evidence suggests that morning exercise is more effective for managing high blood pressure. Research shows that the benefits can last for up to eight hours. 

Downsides To Morning Exercise

There are disadvantages to working out in the morning too which may impact your decision to exercise at this time of day. 

Interrupting Deep Sleep

Waking up early to exercise can interrupt your deep sleep. This can create sleep inertia which means you feel groggy for a time after waking. If it happens often it can cause chronic fatigue. 

Low Fuel

Exercising on an empty stomach may make you struggle during a morning workout. If you haven’t eaten enough the night before a carb heavy snack such as a banana can help. 

Longer To Warm Up

Physical performance is not at its peak first thing in the morning. You may feel stiff and inflexible therefore it can take you longer to warm up. Your heart rate is also slower in the morning which means your body temperature is lower. 

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Be Active?

Advantages Of Working Out In The Evening 

There are many reasons why choosing to exercise in the afternoon or evening can be beneficial. 

Physical Performance

Studies have found that your body’s ability to perform is at its peak in the afternoon.

High intensity exercise performance peaks between 4pm and 8pm. There is also evidence that muscle fatigue is lower during workouts later in the day than in the morning. 

Body Temperature

Physical performance is related to body temperature which rises during the day. This rise optimizes muscle function and strength, endurance and enzyme activity. Body temperature is at its highest between 2pm and 6pm. 

Stress Relief

Evening exercise can help you to relieve the stress of the day. A surge of endorphins following a workout can help you to wind down and relax before bed. If you’ve had a bad day, physical activity can help you to blow off some steam. 

Replacing Poor Habits

Exercising in the evening can help you to break out of some poor habits. Instead of spending the evening in front of the television or snacking on unhealthy foods you can do something positive for your health. 

Replace these bad habits with exercise and you’ll soon feel the benefit. Exercising with a friend or at a class can help you stick with an evening exercise routine. 

Disadvantages Of Evening Exercise

There are some downsides to exercising in the evening, although it depends on the individual and their exercise goals. 

Sleep Interference

There is a common misconception that exercising in the evening is detrimental to your sleep. This is not true and for some people it can actually be the opposite, giving them a better night’s sleep. 

However, with some physical activity there may be some people who may find it interferes with their sleep routine. This is more likely to happen with intense exercise such as CrossFit or high intensity interval training. 

Other exercises such as yoga, tai chi or gentle stretching can facilitate a good night’s sleep by slowing down the mind and relaxing the body. 

Inconsistency

The other common problem with evening exercise is that it happens at the end of your day.

Even with the best laid plans things can happen during the day which mean the time you have allocated for exercise has to be spent on your daily responsibilities. 

This may be having to stay late at work or helping your child with some difficult homework.

If you find that things tend to pile up during the day, and you’re not left with any time to exercise you may want to try moving your workout to the morning. 

You may also find yourself too tired at the end of the day to exercise which is another valid reason for shifting to morning exercise. 

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to exercise in the morning or last thing at night the most important thing is to be consistent and keep a regular fitness routine. 

Your fitness goals and preferences are your best guide to the time of day that you choose to exercise. 

Laura Simmons
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