Gym rats and exercise junkies can go back and forth all day about what the best time to work out is. Some people think exercising first thing in the morning gets your metabolism going and boosts your energy. Others think that evening workouts are when you have the most stamina. Here’s a breakdown of advantages and disadvantages of popular exercise times to determine when the best time of day to work out really is.
The best part about morning workouts is that they’re often the easiest to follow through with (if you can get yourself out of bed). Unlike afternoon or evening workouts, there are no obligations, last minute work issues, or excuses about long days. While exercising will help you sleep better, it might be best to work out first thing in the morning. Evening gym time may elevate heart rate and body temperature in a way that disrupts sleep. Plus, that morning workout will give you a boost of energy once you get going, so you may be able to cut back on the caffeine. You may also feel better and more productive throughout the day. You’ve already conquered your workout for the day, so anything else that comes your way will seem easy.
The downside of jumping into a morning workout is that your body hasn’t had any time to wake up. Your body temperature and heart rate are lower, so muscles may be tighter and stiffer. You could be more prone to injury if you don’t adequately warm up. You may also not feel as energetic if you haven’t eaten and are running on empty.
Proponents of evening workouts often say that they feel better and stronger than when they work out in the morning. You’ve been up and moving all day and your body temperature is higher, so your muscles are already warmed up and you’re less likely to get injured. Testosterone, which aids with athletic performance, peaks in the afternoon, so you may feel naturally stronger. You’ve also hopefully eaten a few meals and some healthy snacks throughout the day, so you’re properly fueled for a tough workout. Working out at night can also be a great way to relieve stress. If you had a tough day at work, you can let it all out on your run or find zen in a yoga class.
One of the major disadvantages to working out in the evening is that it’s very easy for responsibilities or excuses to get in the way. If you have to work late, go get drinks with coworkers or are too tired and hungry when you get home, you may be tempted to blow off your workout.
Really, the best time to work out is when you know you’ll do it. After all, if you always sleep through morning workouts or make excuses for evening ones, it doesn’t matter what time is best. Determine what’s best for your body and lifestyle and work out then. You may feel too groggy to get through a workout done in the morning or too beat to do it after work. The most important thing is that you find time in your day to exercise, no matter when it is.