Early risers may have an advantage of getting up before sunrise to get their workout in first thing in their day and that is great for getting it out of the way and not having to worry about fitting a workout in later. But not everyone is an early riser and just the thought of getting up early for a run seems impossible. So don’t worry, if you can’t work out in the morning, here are some physical benefits of working out at different times during the day.
Working out in the Afternoon
It’s actually a matter of habit than an ideal time to hit the gym.(
) For example, if you can make it to the gym only from 2:30 to 3:30 pm and keep doing that on a consistent basis, you will reap the benefits as your body adjusts to that time and actually perform better than other times during the day. Another interesting research finds that if you stick to a program long enough at the same time of day, it will result in better performance, efficient oxygen consumption and less perceived effort and exhaustion. (
). Specific and consistent training like this helps your body adapts towards better performance.
Other Factors that Affect Performance
There are factors that you may want to consider when thinking about the optimal workout time:
Muscle temperature: your body and muscles are still cold and stiff in the morning which gives you more injury risk. So if you’re a morning exerciser, make sure to warm up well. Muscle strength actually increases during the late afternoon when your muscles are at their warmest temperature. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21029194).
Testosterone Level: Testosterone plays a vital role in muscle growth and strength in both men and women. The body actually produces more testosterone during late afternoon resistance training than it does during morning workouts. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20560706)
Effect on Sleep: Exercise will increase your heart rate and body temperature helping you wake up. So even if your muscles are cold and stiff in the morning and you are feeling groggy. Getting an exercise in first thing could help solve that! Given its effect on heart rate and body temperature, exercise in the late evening or at night may keep you up and disrupt your sleep. If you want to get a good night’s sleep, avoid exercising before bed. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270305/)
Effect on appetite: Losing weight is about calorie balance and also eating the nutrient dense calories. A study found that 45 minutes of moderate exercise in the morning helped reduced appetite after the workout.
(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22617393) This can prevent us overeating our calories during the day and keep insulin levels low in the morning, which helps burn more body fat. It’s also been found that we burn 20 percent more fat exercising on an empty stomach, which works best first thing in the morning.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23340006
So there you go, you have the facts to decide which time of day would be best for you. But in reality, the best time to work out is when you can be consistent and commit whatever that time is.