What time of day is the best to exercise?
Is there really a perfect time?
For many people, finding time to exercise at all can be a challenge so restricting yourself to one particular time slot can be a real problem. Let's get one myth out of the way first...
Morning exercise is the most effective Some people believe that working out first thing in the morning is best....but maybe not so much if you're not a morning person. If you aim to exercise first thing but you know you’re terrible at getting out of bed then the pressure of not sleeping enough and maybe missing the slot can leave you feeling miserable and dejected, often so much so that you don’t get around to exercising at all that day.
How about after work?
Many people consider this the optimum time to exercise, when everything else is done and out of the way. The only difficulty here is that when you're busy i.e. pretty much every day, ‘everything else’ is never done and so by the time you get around to thinking about your workout, it’s too late. There’s just time for something to eat and then bed.
So what's the solution?
The truth is that any workout is better than no workout and that an exercise session you can focus on without distraction will bring you greater results than activity dictated solely by the clock.
Plan each week and be flexible
Take a look at your forthcoming schedule and carve out a few slots every week. It doesn't matter if you exercise early some days, at lunch time on other days and periodically in the evenings. What matters is that you maintain regularity and consistency with your workouts.
Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your exercise - whatever the time:
Morning workouts When planning morning workouts, consider what you do the night before. It sounds obvious, but don't make it harder on yourself by going to bed really late as you'll only suffer when the alarm goes off.
Make sure you drink some water and eat a little something before you exercise. Working out on an empty stomach may not bring optimum results. For the best early morning performance, eat a portion of fruit and drink a glass of water. Stay hydrated as you exercise and refuel shortly after completing your workout. If you practice intermittent fasting you might not want to eat anything but definitely make sure you drink some water.
Lunchtime workouts Squeezing these in can be difficult but is easier if you view a lunchtime session not as a distraction from your other commitments but as a way of setting yourself up to be more effective for the second half of the day.
Plan your morning snack, post workout lunch and afternoon snack carefully in advance on the days that you exercise as this will save you time and keep your energy levels high all day.
Evening workouts If you plan to exercise in the evening you need to decide well in advance what time will work best and then work backwards to establish when you need to finish work and how you need to structure your day in order to leave at that time. If you leave it too late, there's a danger you'll end up abandoning your workout.
Time your evening sessions so that you can wind down afterwards. Ending your workout at least 90-120 minute before bedtime is great as the post-exercise cool-down matches the body cooling process prior to sleep so a quality workout will help you relax through the evening and get a better sleep.