What Is The Optimal Time Of Day To Exercise?

When is the optimal time for me to workout? This is a very common question that is asked, maybe even without you knowing your asking it, by exercise enthusiasts around the globe. The answer is not very simple, and there is actual biological science that seeks to explain which time of day to workout will bring you the most benefit. I would like to note that working out during any time of day is infinitely better than not working out at all. This post is not meant to cause a drastic shift in your everyday routine, but to educate you on some of the benefits of both working out in the morning versus working out in the evening. In the end, the choice of when you work out is based on what you individually think will be best for you and your body.

The Argument For Working Out in The Morning

Just in terms of logistics, there are a lot of pros to working out in the morning. For one, you will get your workout done and over with and start your day with a great boost of endorphins. Another plus is that by 8 or 9am you will have a huge sense of accomplishment for accomplishing something that some people will never do. Now I will plunge into some of the more scientific-based arguments for working out in the morning.

  • A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise studied how women responded to food after working out first thing in the morning. The study found that the participants who walked briskly for 45 minutes were less distracted by delicious looking food photos compared to when the same participants did not exercise at all.
  • On days that participants exercised in the morning, they also increased their physical activity throughout the day more than on the days when they didn’t exercise in the morning. Other benefits include an increased metabolism, which means that you will be able to continue to burn calories throughout the day.

The Argument For Working Out in The Evening

While many people prefer to workout in the morning and there are some very sensible benefits to working out in the morning, that does not mean that working out in the afternoon doesn’t have its benefits as well. Many people have incredibly busy schedules and may only be able to fit in a workout during the evening hours. Below I will cover some of the benefits that can be reaped from working out in the evening as opposed to the morning.

  • There was a study that found that your body is able to perform at its peak in the afternoon. During the day, your body temperature continuously increases, optimizing your muscle function and strength, as well as enzyme activity and endurance for top performance. It has been found that your body temperature is highest between the hours of 2 and 6pm. This could mean that, by exercising in the evening, you will be working out at your body’s peak performance.
  • Additionally, in the afternoon and evening, your reaction time is at its quickest, which is very important for performance in exercises like high intensity interval training (HIIT) or speed work on the treadmill. If that wasn’t enough, the late afternoon is the time when your heart rate and blood pressure will be the lowest, which actually decreases your chance of injury while improving performance at the same time.
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