What is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

Making time for exercise can be tough. For those who have carved out an hour of precious free time to hit the gym or head outside, the hope is that every minute will count. So here’s the big question. Will exercising in the morning or evening make a workout more effective? Preliminary research reveals some great suggestions but has some caveats, too. Here’s the latest research linking time of day with optimum results.

Time of Day and Exercise: Is There a Link?

Getting a jump start on your workout first thing in the morning may seem like a good plan, but is it really? In July of 2019, research published in Cell Metabolism linked time of day to the effectiveness of the exercise. Specifically, the researchers in charge of the studies hoped to see if planning exercise based on body changes caused by hormones throughout the day could increase the benefits of physical activity.

The research was gathered based on both mice and human participants, and the results suggested that working out in the evening may increase calories burned. That being said, the researchers were pretty clear that these are just preliminary findings and that more information is needed to make a definitive recommendation on when to workout.

Working Out for Better Sleep

Although evening workouts may seem appealing based on the above and the ability to head to the gym on the way home from work, those who have trouble sleeping might need to think twice about committing to an early evening workout. A lot of people are invigorated by exercise and will struggle to doze off when getting active before bed. Additionally, a person who is having trouble sleeping may have their circadian rhythms affected by evening workouts, exacerbating the problem. Getting outside and exercising early in the day could play a role in encouraging wakefulness in the morning and resetting circadian rhythms.

Ultimately, it’s hoped that readers won’t use this news as an excuse not to exercise if the morning is the only time available to them. The perfect time for exercise is whenever you can make it work without disrupting your sleep schedule. Some may find that early evening workouts are better suited to them, but it’s important to note that the best time of day to get moving is the one that you’ll be able to stick with over time. Consistency is most important when it comes to any workout plan.

Thank you to our friends at Wellness.com for contributing this piece.

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