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When is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

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With today’s busy lifestyles, fitting in regular exercise can be a challenge. And when we work out, we want to get the best return on our investment of time and energy. A common question many of us ask is, “When is the best time of day to exercise?”

When Is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

The short answer to when is the best time of day to work out is simple. There isn’t a set time that is significantly better than others to exercise as long as you’re getting in activity regularly.

However, there are pros and cons to all exercise times — including morning, afternoon and evening sessions. When is better to exercise is different for every person, and it depends on several things. The ideal time varies according to your preferences, schedule and goals.

Consider Your Circadian Rhythm

Our bodies have a built-in body clock called circadian rhythm, which means we function according to a 24-hour internal clock. It regulates how our bodies functions, including when we sleep and wake, our energy levels, metabolism and hormone production.

A circadian rhythm is personal and based on genetic variations. It also can change as you age. While it typically remains fairly consistent in healthy adults, it can be affected by factors such as:

  • Certain medications
  • Some mental health conditions
  • Stress levels
  • Temperature
  • Stress
  • Travel

A consistent exercise routine whatever the time of day can help keep your circadian rhythm in sync.

Rise and Exercise

Working out in the morning is a great option if you’re a morning person who doesn’t struggle to get out of bed. Keep in mind that morning is anywhere between dawn and 11am, so if your schedule permits, opt for when you feel your best.

Some people like to greet the day before or as the sun rises. Others may need a cup of hot tea or coffee with a light breakfast to prime their engines first. Either option is great.

Research and anecdotal evidence have shown several benefits of exercising in the morning, including:

  • Consistency: In the morning, you’re less likely to face distractions and interruptions to your schedule from work or family obligations
  • Higher metabolism: Physical activity revs your metabolism and can help you burn more calories throughout the day
  • Enhanced mood and focus: Getting the endorphins flowing and stimulating blood flow to the brain helps you feel good and be sharp, which can boost productivity

One drawback to a morning workout is that an early wake-up call might reduce your sleep time, causing you to feel tired later in the day.

Afternoon and Evening Exercise Sessions

Afternoon and evening physical activity can be ideal if you’re not an early riser and need more time to feel ready for exercise. In addition to logging some extra ZZs, you can enjoy the following benefits from exercising in the afternoon or evening:

  • Better performance: Your body temperature and reaction time peak in the afternoon and early evening; that means you’ll have increased muscle strength and stamina
  • Stress relief: Moving your body is an effective way to shake off stress and decrease tension, which can help you relax and sleep better
  • More time: Morning exercise can be rushed in order to get to work, school or other obligations on time; later in the day, you may have more flexibility

Studies show conflicting results about how night workouts can affect your sleep. Some have found that exercising too late can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. But another study reported that those who worked out in the evening slept better and longer than people who hit the gym in the morning. It appears to depend on each individual’s unique body system.

Your Optimal Schedule

Ultimately, figuring out when is better to work out is a personal choice. Think about your preferences and how you feel. Are you a morning lark or a night owl? If you feel like you’re forcing yourself to exercise at a certain time of the day, that can negatively impact your results and adherence.

Also, your schedule can determine your exercise routine:

  • If you like to get going early, opt for morning sessions
  • If you work nights, perhaps late afternoon sessions before work is best
  • If you want to improve your athletic performance, afternoon or evening workouts may yield the greatest results
  • If you have a baby at home, try getting active at your little one’s naptime, after bedtime or in mini-bursts throughout the day.

And if your schedule changes often, your best bet is to be flexible and adapt accordingly.

What’s most important is not the time you exercise, but that you’re regularly active. Any exercise at any time of day is better than not working out at all. Whether you’re just starting a routine or have been exercising for many years, keep moving!

Get Moving With the Support You Need

For more information on keeping your body healthy through exercise and minimizing your risk of injury, visit us here to learn more about our orthopedic services. You deserve to feel whole.

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