The early bird gym larks versus the weights room night owls has been a score that hasn't been settled in years. Who has the upper hand? Who's doing it correctly?
Should we all get up with the sun — like Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, who works out at 4.30 a.m. — and pound through a workout before the rest of the world wakes up? Is it preferable to recharge your mind and body for the evening ahead by going on a 45-minute gym safari after a long day at work?
The greatest time to exercise is whenever you have the opportunity.
The greatest time to exercise is whenever you have the opportunity. We don't all have 90-minute workouts or green smoothies with collagen in our schedules. If you just have time to work out before work, the morning is the best time. If you save physical activity for busy evenings, you're more likely to forget about it.
Similarly, if you can only fit 20 minutes of exercise into your day right before bedtime, that is the greatest time to exercise.
But there's one thing I'd like to mention about consistency: the greatest time to exercise is whenever you can, but the best-best time of day to exercise is the time you can adhere to for days, weeks, and months.
For example, if you only have 20 minutes at night but find yourself skipping it, see if you can fit it into your morning instead. Perhaps you go to bed and wake up 20 minutes earlier; you'll still get your 20 minutes of exercise; it's only changed your timetable a little.
The truth is that people who exercise on a regular basis see superior weight loss and fitness results over time. According to research, your body can adapt to regular training regimens, so if you work out every morning, you'll probably get a lot better at it, and the same goes for evening workouts.
That said, as proven by decades of scientific research, both morning and night workouts offer benefits and drawbacks; let's talk about them.
BENEFITS OF MORNING WORKOUTS
Morning workouts, according to various research studies, have a distinct advantage and provide a slew of advantages that may persuade some night owls to get their fitness on in the morning.
Can Help Develop an Established Routine
People who exercise first thing in the morning are more likely to remain consistent since they have fewer excuses. If you work out first thing in the morning, you won't be able to skip it in the evening due to a backlog of responsibilities.
May Help Your Sleep Cycle
Waking up early may be challenging at first, but research suggests that a morning exercise habit can modify your circadian rhythm such that your body is naturally more awake in the morning and sleepier in the evening, allowing you to fall asleep sooner and exercise in the morning. According to some study, morning exercise appears to promote deeper sleep more than evening exercise. Sleep also aids muscular building, so if your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle improve, you may experience even more strength improvements.
May Help Burn More Fat
Exercising on an empty stomach, known as the "fasted state," has been shown to burn more fat than exercising after a meal (in the "fed state"). This occurs because, rather than using the food you just ate as fuel, your body must use fat stores that already exist to fuel activity. Other research suggests that exercising first thing in the morning causes the "afterburn" to continue longer, which could help you lose weight over time.
May Make You More Productive
Exercise in the morning has been shown to improve energy levels, alertness, focus, and decision-making, which can lead to a more productive workday.
Potential To Improve Your Mood
Morning workouts are a terrific way to start each day on a positive note because the endorphins, or "happy chemicals," that your body creates in reaction to exercise can keep your mood lifted long after your hour-long workout is through. The sense of success you get after finishing a workout can also help you have a positive attitude for the rest of the day.
DRAWBACKS OF MORNING WORKOUTS
Though early morning activities can be a beneficial element of a healthy lifestyle, they do have certain disadvantages. When you work out first thing in the morning, a few factors can throw off your routine.
You May Be Low on Fuel
If you didn't eat enough the night before, you may find yourself starving in the middle of your workout. Try having a larger meal or a small, protein-dense snack before bed if you wake up hungry most days. You can also reduce hunger and hunger-related exhaustion by eating a modest carb-heavy snack before your morning workout, such as a banana.
May Interrupt Deep Sleep
An early-morning alarm could wake you up, depending on your sleep cycle. If this happens frequently, it can cause sleep inertia (feeling foggy for a while after waking up) as well as persistent weariness.
Performance Isn’t at Its Peak
Most people don't wake up feeling nimble and energized. You may have joint stiffness and inflexibility for a short period of time. Warming up should help you relax up, but research shows that certain strength measures, such as peak power, are higher in the evening.
Warming Up Takes Longer
There's a reason you might not feel as strong or powerful during morning exercises, and it has to do with warm-ups: The temperature of your core body is lower. Warming up is critical for morning workouts since leaping into a workout without first easing into it might lead to injury. This is always true, but especially when your body temperature is lower. Your heart rate is also slower in the morning (which is the optimal time to determine your genuine resting heart rate), so you'll need to warm up for longer.
BENEFITS OF AFTERNOON AND EVENING WORKOUTS
Those who can squeeze in a workout between 12 and 4 p.m. have my admiration. If I could workout at that time on a regular basis, it would be wonderful. In the afternoon, I feel more flexible, mobile, and physically energized, which makes me feel more ready to workout. I'm also feeling stronger and more agile.
Most people experience these physiological adaptations throughout the day, which makes the afternoon and evening the optimum times to exercise for a variety of reasons.
Physical Performance May Improve
According to studies, most people perform better physically later in the day. Muscle strength, flexibility, power production, and endurance all improve in the evening compared to the morning. Furthermore, persons who exercise in the evening take up to 20% longer to attain tiredness.
Your Body Warms Up Throughout the Day
Many folks might get into the swing of things faster for afternoon and evening workouts because their core temperature is warmer later in the day. However, you should continue to warm up!
Hormones Work in Your Favor
Men and women both need testosterone to create muscle, and your body may produce more of it during afternoon workouts than morning workouts, resulting in better strength and muscle growth.
Late-Day Exercise Can Help You De-Stress
Exercise is generally a wonderful method to de-stress but working out late at night can be especially beneficial. The rush of endorphins that you get during and after exercise might be a delicious nightcap that helps you relax before bed.
May Reduce Bad Habits
If you wish to replace some evening or midnight routines, such as munching, drinking, smoking, or watching too much TV, allow exercise to do so. Once you get into the habit of working out at night, you might discover that you don't miss your previous habits at all.
DRAWBACKS OF AFTERNOON AND EVENING WORKOUTS
The above advantages of afternoon and evening exercises may entice you to exercise later in the day, but there are a few drawbacks to consider.
Sleep Disturbances Can Possible
The generalization that exercising late at night is bad for your sleep is a misconception. That isn't true for everyone; scientists have discovered that exercising late at night has no effect on sleep, and some individuals may even sleep better; nevertheless, other people may have jitters if they exercise too close to bedtime. This is only true for high-intensity workouts like CrossFit or HIIT, as yoga, stretching, and other mild exercises might help you sleep better when done before bed.
You Might Be Inconsistent
If you're like most people, you might not be able to exercise at night because you're too weary after a long day. Afternoon and evening workouts may conflict with everyday obligations, especially if you have a tendency to procrastinate during the day. If this describes you, try incorporating a short morning workout into your everyday regimen.
The Bottom Line: When Is the Best Time to Exercise?
What would be the greatest time to work out if you had the option of choosing any time of day – with no interruptions, no work schedule, and no other obligations?