What’s the Best Time to Workout?


Some of us are definitely morning people. We feel a burst of energy when we wake up and we can’t wait to seize the day. Others, however, tend to get their best wind during the afternoon or in the evening. So with all that said, what is the best time of day to schedule a workout, morning or afternoon?


As far as rate of calorie burn, there actually is no reliable evidence to suggest that calories are burned more efficiently at a certain time of day according to WebMD. So choosing the optimal time to get in a workout is all about individual preference and what works best given your body’s circadian rhythm.


A person’s circadian rhythm is their individual body clock set by the 24-hour pattern of the Earth’s rotation. It influences things like blood pressure, hormone levels and heart rate. These things also factor into the times when a person’s body is ready for exercise. However, regardless of the fact that calorie burn isn’t affected, there are certain perks involved in both afternoon and morning workouts.          


When it comes to morning workouts, the primary benefit involves consistency. Most experts generally agree that working out in the morning makes it easier to stick to a workout program because there are fewer distractions and deterrents. There’s no commute, the kids are still asleep, evening plans don’t get in the way, etc. Another benefit of working out in the a.m. is that there are less crowded gyms in the morning hours.


Also, as an added bonus, sleep habits may improve. According to YouBeauty.com, a recent Appalachian State University study found that morning workouts caused participants to sleep longer and have better sleep cycles than those who worked out at other points in the day. So if you’re already having trouble sleeping, then it sounds like exercising early may be the way to go for you.


For those who prefer afternoon or early evening workouts, there have been some small studies that show an increase in strength and performance in those that exercised later in the day. One possible cause for this may be linked to the fact that by afternoon, we’ve fueled our bodies and prepared them for exercise with the food we’ve taken in so far.


Stress relief is another advantage of working out later in the day as it gives you an outlet to release all of your frustrations that have built up during the day. This can also lead to a better and brighter mood when you get home. Availability of classes at gyms and workout partners are also pluses when it comes to afternoon workouts.           


In order to find out what time of day works best for you, Steven Aldana, PhD, recommends trying different times of the day and see what your body best responds to. Try working out in the morning for a week or two, then around noon and then finally, early evening. After doing this, consider which workout time you most enjoyed and how it made you feel afterwards. However, when it comes to noon workouts, save your lunch for after the workout. That way, the muscles will get the blood they need instead of rivaling with the digestive track. As a rule, always wait at least an hour and a half after a meal before exercising.


In choosing a time for your workouts, perhaps one of the most important aspects is to choose a time that you can stick to and that will promote consistency. If you choose a time of the day that helps you enjoy the exercise, then making it a regular part of your day will be much easier. After a while, getting to the gym will be as easy as having coffee.