Some people are early birds and exercise at the crack of dawn while others are night owls who wouldn’t dream of getting to the gym until the afternoon or evening. Is one group reaping more benefits than the other? While research has shown little difference in calories burned or muscle gained by exercising at various times of the day, when you exercise can influence how you feel during exercise and throughout the course of the day.
It is most important to make sure that exercise fits into your family and work schedules, or you will never stick to a routine. That being said, there are many benefits to working out in the morning hours. First, it kick-starts your metabolism and energizes you for the day. Additionally, exercising in the morning may decrease your stress levels when you get to work. People who work out in the morning often feel better about their work-life balance. If you need to work late, you probably won’t be as upset as you’ve already completed your workout. Starting your day with a good workout also uplifts your mood and makes you feel good about yourself.
If you have trouble with consistency, morning may be the best time to exercise. This ensures that your activity is completed before any kind of stress or pressure from the day impedes your ability to get to the gym and interferes with your good intentions. You will be less likely to skip your workout for other obligations. Morning exercise has been shown to set your pace and focus for the day. If you exercise early in the day, you may also be more motivated to make healthier food choices.
Additionally, research has shown that morning exercise improves sleep, and better sleep is correlated with weight loss. This is because sleep controls the hormonal balance that helps control appetite. People who exercise in the evening may have difficulty falling asleep, throwing this balance off. It is important to wind down before bedtime and have regular, healthy bedtime habits so that your heart rate and body temperature come to a good rest zone.
While morning is shown to be a better time to exercise for the above stated reasons, many people find it extremely difficult to wake up early and get to the gym, especially if they did not sleep well the night before or are overtired. Some people just cannot motivate in the morning, or their schedule only permits them to exercise during lunchtime or in the evening. If you do work out at lunchtime, make sure to eat after you exercise or your digestive system will be fighting with your muscles for energy. Working out after work can be beneficial to help you unwind and relax after a stressful day. If you can’t drag yourself out of bed in the morning, you are likely to have more energy and be more productive in the afternoon, so do what works for you.
It is of upmost importance to schedule physical exercise into your life and make it a daily habit. The most important thing is to get moving, no matter what time of the day it is!