When is the best time of day to exercise?


This is such a popular question, and has so many facets for an answer that we thought we would give you our opinion (and a few facts) on the matter.

We have so many different requests for workout times that it just is not possible to cover them all off sometimes. So why are there so many different opinions and preferences on this? Lets look at some science.

Let’s face it. Some of us LOVE early morning workouts and some hate it with a vengeance. Why is that? Lets start there.

Characteristics of Early birds / night owls

This information has been taken from ‘Psychology today’ and is based on scientific research.

  • Morning types showed higher levels of cooperation, while evening types were lowest. This result is in keeping with prior research linking morningness to the personality trait of agreeableness.
  • Evening types reported greater novelty seeking than “neither” types, and neither types scored higher on novelty seeking than morning types. The relationship between novelty seeking and eveningness, the authors contend, may have to do with low dopamine levels — and may act as a risk factor for addictive behaviors, like smoking. According to research, evening types drink more alcohol and smoke more cigarettescompared to morning types.
  • Morning types were highest on persistence, while evening types were lowest on this characteristic. The authors point out that these findings are consistent with other research — for example, morningness has been linked to both conscientiousness and proactivity. Similarly, morningness has been found to be negatively related to indecision and procrastination. Taken together, these results shed light on why morning types manage academic responsibilities more easily, and get better grades. Along similar lines, eveningness has been linked to increased impulsivity as well as higher measures of ADHD.
  • Evening types were higher on self-transcendence than “neither” types. This finding is in line with studies linking eveningness to creative thinking. Similarly, eveningness also correlates with the trait of openness, albeit weakly. The authors maintain that openness, creativeness, and self-transcendence may be related to each other, as well as to eveningness.

 

Aside from the personality differences associated with early birds and night owls, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages for morning, lunchtime and evening workouts.


Morning workouts

ADVANTAGE:

A morning workout is the perfect way to start the day.

If workout in the morning, you can give your body a healthy dose of oxygen. Your metabolism will be pushed to burn more calories. This obviously means for fat burning, this is the optimal time of day.

The higher oxygen content in the morning air makes it easier to breathe, especially in the summertime. It’s also easier to run when it’s still cool compared to the midday heat.

DISADVANTAGE:

A morning workout can feel harder than other times of the day.

Right after you get up, your joints might be stiff, your muscles tense and inflexible. This means that you may not have the necessary muscle control and coordination when you are working out. That’s why you should do a special, dynamic warm-up program in the mornings before your workout. You also run the risk of being under fuelled at this time of day too: always have a small high GI carb based snack and then breakfast within an hour of your workout.

Lunchtime workouts

ADVANTAGE:

Midday has the best conditions for a high-intensity workout.

Your performance potential around lunchtime is 100%, and your body is not too tired from your daily activities. Your energy stores are well-filled – compared to the morning – and physical exertion feels less intense. These are the best conditions for a short intense workout. The body handles high intensity training especially well in the middle of the day.

DISADVANTAGE:

A workout after lunch can be very strenuous.

Your body needs more time to digest depending on how heavy and rich your lunch was. In order to avoid having to deal with digestive problems (e.g. stomach cramps) during an intense exercise, follow these guidelines:

  • Wait about 30 minutes after a light snack before you go running.
  • If you ate a large lunch, wait 1.5 to 2 hours before your run.
  • If exercise after eating doesn’t make you feel good, do your workout before lunch. However, it might be harder because your energy stores are not entirely full.

Evening workouts

ADVANTAGE:

A workout in the evening is a good way to unwind and blow off steam.

Are you stressed out at the end of a hectic workday and have trouble unwinding? An endurance workout can help you blow off some steam. Since your body is still in performance mode, you don’t need to warm up as much as in the morning. Plus, an evening workout boosts your night-time fat burning. (Because, lets face it, we ALWAYS eat too much dinner too late at night….)

DISADVANTAGE:

An evening workout can make it hard to fall asleep.

Perhaps you want to really let off some steam in the evening with a high-intensity workout. But be careful, you might struggle to fall asleep: your body is re-energized by the workout too late at night and too close to bedtime.

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