How To Determine Your Best Time Of Day To Exercise
If you’re going to make a plan to get in shape, you might as well do it right. And while the type of exercise you like matters, so does the time of day you choose to get sweaty. The best time to exercise does vary from person to person, but by narrowing in on a few key components of your goals and personality, it’s actually not so hard to determine the best setup for you.
Trying to lose weight? Stick to a morning workout. First of all, squeezing in some exercise as the sun rises can be an easier routine to maintain since there aren’t many life events (other than sleep) that demand your attention at this hour. There is also some scientific evidence that working out on an empty stomach helps the body burn more fat and prevent additional weight gain. Plus, you’re more likely to make healthy breakfast decisions following an AM sweat session.
Focusing on muscular strength or endurance? The afternoon and early evening are your friends. By the afternoon, your body’s core temperature has risen, making your muscles more flexible. Your reaction time is also strongest while your heart rate and blood pressure are lowest. And hormonally speaking, testosterone production increases in the late afternoon, helping you push even harder through those last few reps. Sounds like the perfect conditions for serious athletic training to us!
Sick of losing sleep? Rise ‘n’ run! Well, you don’t have to run exactly, but morning workouts won’t leave you feeling wide awake like a 9 p.m. weightlifting session does. So if you’re someone who feels particularly energized after exercise rather than totally exhausted, use that power to jumpstart your day rather than cause your restless nights.
Looking to burn off some stress? Trade that after-work happy hour for a workout class. This one might be a bit of a no-brainer, but if your job tends to skyrocket your cortisol levels, a solid workout can help you not only stay fit, but also make healthy dinner and evening lifestyle choices. So if you always feel tempted to head home and hang out with a pint of your favorite ice cream on the couch, exercise first and see if those feelings start to shift.
What does the rest of your weekly schedule look like? One of the biggest mistakes is trying to fit your life around your exercise needs rather than scheduling your exercise around your life. There’s so much more going on in your life than your workouts! Look for the natural gaps in your day (if there are any) and honestly ask yourself when a gym session would feel the least intrusive to other things you enjoy. That way, you get to have your fitness class and happy hour with your friends, or a quiet morning of reading the news and a quality cardio session at the end of your workday.
Need a workout buddy? Then you obviously need to factor in what meetup time best suits your friend’s life, too. Unless you’re neighbors, a consistent morning routine could be more of a struggle than it’s worth, so it might be best to plan for when you’re both done with work for the day and can focus on the next goal at hand.
Are you a morning lark or a night owl? Your internal body clock matters, especially when it comes to workout motivation. If you don’t naturally feel sleepy until 1 a.m., there is no sense in forcing your body to get up at the crack of dawn for a workout class. And if you naturally wake up at 5:30 a.m. without an alarm clock, don’t wait until after work when you’re feeling depleted to try and go to the gym. Work with your body, not against it. Common sense, folks.
At the end of the day, the key is consistency. Research suggests that the body can adapt to whatever gym routine you create, so as long as you pick a time and stick to it, you’ll be able to perform better, take in more oxygen as you work, and feel less exhausted when you’re done. Now that’s what we call motivation.