Over the years, exercise experts have published their opinions about which time of day is the best for exercise, but many of these opinions were just theories. For example, it was believed that if you worked out before bed, your metabolism would continue to cook off calories while you slept. If you could fall asleep, that is.
Recent studies have indeed found that certain exercise benefits can be enhanced based on what time of day you exercise.
Of course, it’s very important to keep in mind that exercising any time of day comes with great benefits and any exercise is better than none – it’s just that the time of day you exercise can produce better results, making your workout more efficient without any extra effort.
THE MORNING WORKOUT
1. The Early Bird Loses (The Most Weight, That Is)
A study from BYU shows that 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise in the morning reduces a person’s motivation for food, and makes that person more likely to keep moving and burn calories throughout the day. Working out in a fasting state before breakfast is also better for weight loss because our bodies rely less on carbohydrates from recent food intake and more on fat for fuel.
2. Get A Better Night’s Sleep
While exercise any time of day helps you sleep better, it seems that exposure to daylight after waking helps adjust your rhythm to light and dark, telling your brain to power down at night. Researchers at Appalachian State University found that morning exercise not only reduces blood pressure by 10 percent, it also causes in a 25% dip in blood pressure at night, resulting in better sleep. The study was based on subjects ranging in age from 40 to 60. The researchers also noted that better sleep is essential to increasing cardio health, decreases in anxiety, lower blood pressure and weight maintenance.
THE MID-DAY WORKOUT
Reset Your Body Clock
Occasionally, your body clock can be thrown out of whack. Traveling into different time zones can do it. So can staying up too late in an abundance of artificial light.
If you’re a mouse, working out in the middle of the day is the best way to reset your clock. According to a study at the UCLA, mice with a malfunctioning sense of time get back on schedule with exercise in the middle of their day. The findings showed that the afternoon workout worked better at resetting the body’s clock better than morning workouts, opposite of the expectations of the scientists.
But then, you’re not a mouse. The same tests have not yet been applied to humans, so drawing the same conclusion is pure conjecture. Still, it can’t hurt to try, can it?
THE LATE-AFTERNOON WORKOUT
Perform At Your Peak
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, you’re at your physical peak from the hours of 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. It seems that testosterone levels are most responsive to exercise this time of day. As a result, body temperature is at its peak, and you’re likely to feel stronger and more flexible with your lungs operating at top efficiency.
Another study showed that competitive swimmer’s performed best in the afternoon, worst in the morning. Their flexibility was also at its best during the same time period.
While the studies show the advantages and efficiencies of exercising at different times of day, it’s important to take it all with a grain of salt unless you’re a top-flight athlete. If you’re among those of us looking to lose weight, stay healthy, sleep better and simply feel better, don’t get too hung up on what you’ve just read.
If you have a choice and can easily alter your workout times for optimum results, that’s great. If not, exercise when you can. You’ll still get the benefits that come with a healthy, active lifestyle.
And above all, DO NOT put off exercising until tomorrow because you missed that peak time. No exercise simply means no benefit.