We are all different when it comes to lifestyle, careers, being a morning person, or a late riser.
Some people swear by a 6am jog to get the heart racing and to get psyched up for the day, whereas others wouldn’t dream of breaking a sweat until their exercise class in the evening.
Obviously there is preference, and then there is reality and therefore you can be governed by life getting in the way and how you feel. My question, however, is: Is there any one time of day the best time to exercise?
The answer is quite simple. There is no reliable evidence to suggest that calories are burned more efficiently at certain times of day. But the time of day can influence how you feel when doing your exercise.
Unless I’m on holiday or have had a really indulgent evening, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of morning workouts. If you are a person who has trouble with consistency however, working out in the morning maybe the best thing for you to do.
Not only are you getting it out the way before the day has really begun, some may say that you will actually perform better. This won’t only be down to having energy after a good night’s sleep, but it will also be because you are in a routine and will get the most out the session.
The key to a good morning session is to warm the body up as body temperature is lower in the morning. Once you are warm and your heart rate increases you will be energised and ready to get a serious workout in.
Sometimes we have a bad night’s sleep and hitting the snooze button may seem a lot more appealing than jumping out of bed and going to the gym, or whacking your running shoes on and going outside. This is just a fact, but if you’re trying to get into an exercise pattern where you are training in the morning, it could be a good idea to try and get yourself into a sleeping habit.
Firstly, your body needs time to wind down. If you’ve had a hectic day it’s really important to get ready for sleep. Going from a hundred miles an hour to laying on a bed may stop you from falling asleep. Let the heart rate go into a rest zone which will also start decreasing the body temperature. Turn the phone off and maybe read for 15-20 minutes, or listen to some chill out music and get ready to sleep.
Your eyes and your body needs rest, especially if in 6-8 hours time you are going to be working out.
Exercising or eating too late sabotages your body’s urge to sleep. Both exercise and eating raise your heart rate and temperature which will go against the plan.
When Later Is Better
As mentioned above, in spite of good intentions to try and get up early to exercise I am more likely to exercise in the afternoon. It’s easier to get my body into a rhythm because I’m not fighting my body the way I do in the morning. Being a PT and running around all over the place each day can take its toll, so I come to realise the times of day I have a surge of energy.
This is different on holidays when I am relaxed and can easily get up and go for a run before hitting the breakfast buffet. For some people, lunchtime is the best time to exercise, especially if co-workers keep you company. I know many people who like the one hour slot to get their session in on a time deadline, or enjoy a run mid way through their day.
Just be sure to eat after you work out, not before. Don’t exercise immediately following a meal. The blood that needs to go to your muscles is going to your digestive tract. Try give yourself 90 minutes after a heavy meal.
Your Own Best Time to Exercise
When it comes to figuring out what works for you, it is important you take a good look at your lifestyle, shift patterns, relationship with consistency, and how realistic your exercise regime can fit into your life.
Try a workout in the morning for a few weeks, then try noon, then early evening. Which do you enjoy most and which makes you feel the best afterwards? Also, consider the type of exercise, and other daily commitments.
Most of all, find a time that helps you make your exercise a regular, consistent part of your life. This is more important than the time of day. We know that results come with consistency.
Establishing the Exercise Habit
One day, you’ll reach a point where daily exercise comes as naturally as breathing. At that point, you may want variety.
In an effort to stay regularly active, some people change the type of exercise they do and the time of day they do it. Keeping it fresh makes it more enjoyable and more likely to be continued. But if you’re still at the point where exercise is hit or miss, scheduling it for the same time each day will help you make it a habit.
Whether you choose morning, lunchtime, or after work to exercise, make it part of your routine. I have gone from the 6am sessions to now being a little more varied. To get a focused, good relationship with my exercise routine this really did help get me in the zone.
People who are just starting out and who exercise randomly are more likely to drop out, so make sure you can incorporate a workout into the day. If you drive, find a route that takes you near the gym, keep a gym bag in the car so you always have clothes and appropriate footwear etc. It’s all about habit.
So in conclusion, there will be scientific research and experts that could suggest X time for exercise is better than Y time, but my approach is different. I just want you to get the exercise in.
I want you to not see it as a chore so much, but rather a part of your daily routine. Like everything, it takes a little bit of time to prepare, and get your head around, but once you have found the system that works for you and you break the barrier, it will seem a lot less of an effort.
The key here is always motivation and finding what works for you. There is no escaping that the body needs to be worked so instead of fighting it, work with it and it’s simply just another hour or so out of your life which your body and mind is going to thank you for – for the next 23 hours at least!