Many people swear by early morning sweat sessions as the best method for losing weight. But what about those of us who couldn’t fathom a workout that early in the morning? The good news is that finding the perfect time for exercise is more about personal preference than it is about physiological benefits.
What is important is finding a time of day that works best for you in order to make exercise a habit.
- You have the psychological pleasure of knowing your workout is done.
- It is easier to keep a consistent routine in the morning.
- There is less room for other responsibilities and time pressures to interfere.
- A full day of work can take a toll on one’s willpower, no matter how well-intentioned you may be.
- Early workouts may help with a more sound sleep, while workouts too late in the day may make it harder to fall asleep at night.
Advantages of Later Workouts
- Body temperature is higher later in the day, which leaves the muscles less stiff and less susceptible to injuries.
- Muscle strength and endurance may be at its peak in the afternoon.
- The body produces more testosterone later in the day which is important in strength and muscle building.
- You may have more energy later in the day after fueling your body with some nutritious meals.
Listen to Your Body
While there may be some advantages to working out at different times of the day, those differences would be minor, with a bigger significance lying in the psychological effects of the workout. If you are not a morning person there would be no advantage to forcing yourself out of bed at 5 am to workout, only to be miserable the entire time. The benefits of working out come in consistency, so pick a time of day that will allow you to enjoy your workout and become consistent.
Picking the perfect time of day may not be as easy as choosing a number on the clock. Take a look at your daily schedule and pick a realistic time that will not interfere with other responsibilities. If your days are packed from morning until night, a morning routine might be best. If you have a free schedule after work and morning is not your thing, go for an after-work routine. If you have some little bits of free time in the middle of the day, throw in a quick 20 minute workout in the afternoon.
Consider the Social Setting
To some people, the social setting is a very important aspect of their workout. Some prefer solitude and alone time which you can get early in the morning, in the middle of the day during the work-week, or much later at night. Others prefer a gym atmosphere with plenty of people to keep them motivated. The gym tends to be packed mid-morning, or around rush-hour time between 5-6 pm. You may even do better with an exercise partner. If that is the case, try to come up with a time that works for the both of you, even if that means a quick walk during your lunch break with a co-worker.
The Bottom Line
The most important things to consider when coming up with a workout time is your preference, your schedule, and how you can be consistent. Exercise is not a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing, so don’t be fooled by the people who say that one time of day is best. If you find mornings the best for you, just be sure to warm-up a little bit longer than normal to avoid injury. If afternoon/night time is better, keep the timing consistent and eat after your work out, not before.
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