Whether you are starting a new workout plan or rethinking your current routine, you may wonder if working out at a certain time of day might give you better results. There is a lot of back and forth in the athletic and scientific communities around the best time of day to work out, but it may all come down to your goals.
If you’re looking to boost your mood or clear your mind.
When you work out, your body releases endorphins that promote good feelings and proteins that may result in a clearer mind and encourage positive decision-making. Thanks to these powerful brain boosters, when you work out in the morning you are more likely to make healthier decisions throughout the day.
If you want to set the tone for your day.
Working out in the morning also sets the tone for healthy habits all day long. You may be motivated by the idea that you will cancel out the positive effects of your workout by making unhealthy choices—and that can have a powerful ripple effect all day long.
If you find it hard to squeeze in time for a workout.
A morning exercise routine also means that it’s done before the rest of your day even starts. We’ve all been there: you planned to work out right after work, maybe even signed up for a class, but things come up and you end up working late. Or you get to the end of the day and spending time with friends sounds like a lot more fun, so you skip your workout. When you check off your workout in the morning, you ensure that other things won’t take priority and you won’t have to worry about losing motivation after a long day.
If you feel like all the coffee in the world can’t help you.
Working out can invigorate you with a boost of energy. This is a welcome gift in the morning, setting you up for a productive day and potentially reducing the need for caffeine.
If your body resists moving in the morning.
Although a morning workout may prime you for the day, your body may be more ready for a workout in the afternoon or evening. Research shows that strength and flexibility are greatest in the late afternoon and perceived exertion—how hard you feel your body is working—is lowest. Scientists believe this is partially because the body rises in temperature throughout the day due to your circadian rhythm. In other words, your body has been warming up all day and is ready to go. Because of this, your body is also least likely to get injured.
If you hope to boost performance.
There is something known as the morning performance gap—when the lack of being warmed up inhibits your ability to perform. That means you may also be able to run faster or lift more weight in the afternoon or evening, as compared to the morning.
If you need a midday wake-up.
Finally, one of the best psychological benefits of an afternoon workout is that it can help you overcome a midday slump and provide a second boost of energy for the afternoon and evening. However, this same energy boost too late in the evening could make it harder to fall asleep.
There are clear advantages to morning or evening workouts, so how to decide what is best for you?
Although your goals can help determine when to work out, the best time for you is whenever you have time to do it consistently. Research supports the idea that your body will adapt to whichever works for you and you can expect greater improvements to happen at whichever time of day you train regularly. Of course, what ultimately matters is that you move your body, whenever you can.
A MOBE Guide can help you find even more ways to move toward better health and more happiness. Get started today.
1. Chtourou, Hamdi, Souissi, Nizar. “The Effect of Training at a Specific Time of Day,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, July 2012, Vol 26:7.
2. “When is the best time of day to work out?” American Heart Association editorial staff, last reviewed: Dec 14, 2016, www.heart.org.