What is the Best Time of Day to Exercise ?
The all-time debate continues….is it better to work out in the morning or at night? Or should you really throw everyone off at come in for a breakout exercise session at noon?
Clearly, this is a choice you make either off of preference or time availability, but there are reasons to do all of them at one point.
When you’re an early riser and you go to the gym for a workout, you are starting your body on a calorie-burning track all day long. This is another reason why the HIIT workouts are so popular--not only do you get the alternating intensity, but it puts your body’s calorie burning fire into overload for the rest of the day. By starting out with exercise, you’re already thinking about healthy choices, so you’re not going to ruin your efforts and have a giant, greasy breakfast afterward. On top of that, your workout is done for the day and you can relax and just settle into your regular routine, without feeling guilty about physical exercise later on. If you have the motivation to get up and join the early crowd at the gym, it can set a great tone for your day that begins to turn into a habit. This is one of the reasons why so many trainers come in early for their personal workouts, even though it’s a little hard to start doing that.
The afternoon exercise enthusiasts have a unique perspective on working out. They are willing to stop what they’re doing in a day and use their lunch or whatever free time they have to go kick their own butt at the gym. With that in mind, their breakfast and meal choices are going to be healthier, because they don’t want to feel weighted down with junk food when they begin exercising. Their water intake is likely increased because they are purposely drinking some in the middle of the day during their workout, when other people are drinking sodas and other beverages with their lunch. Since they’re not taking time to sit down to a huge lunch, they will probably choose something lighter later on and save most of their calories for dinner. All of these are great reasons to come in to the gym around noon, and you have the additional benefit of using the machines without a long wait time.
Now, everyone knows that the activity around the gym significantly increases in the evening. For some members, it’s a stress release after a hard day, others a part of a dedicated exercise routine and for others, an occasional exercise session when they start feeling guilty. Either way, everyone starts to show up around 4:30-5pm and it’s a buzzing hive of activity. This a great time to work out if you feed off that vibe and use it to drive your personal efforts. When it’s busy and you see other people pushing hard, it can help you push to do more as well. Of course, you always want to stay safe and within your abilities, but this is a really fun time to get your cardio and free weights in. Needless to say, no one wants to go home to a heavy dinner after that, so you’re not loading up on sugar and calories that will store fat while you sleep.
So now that you see the benefits of various workout times, pay attention to your body as well. Your internal clock will tell you when you’re ready to seriously hit the treadmill and the weights and keep good form. You know when you have the most energy and when your body has a full tank of nutrients to work from. (This is explained more here: Glycemic Index.) If you’re not sure which time you prefer, try all three of them and go from there—but definitely make the time for exercise. It’s an investment you’re making into your own physical future and is always worth the effort.