Ready or not, 2018 is finally here! Did you make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get in better shape? If so, you’re in good company. According to Statistic Brain, in 2017 32% of us made weight-related resolutions. 5.5% of us specifically resolved to work out more. So, if this year proves at all similar, gyms and parks are about to get way more crowded. If you’re among the masses, you’re probably wondering: when is the best time to workout? Here we’ll dive into the pros and cons of morning versus evening workouts so that you can decide which is best for you!
Short on time? Check out the Best Time to Exercise Infographic here!
Early bird? Morning exercise may be the thing for you! Those who break a sweat first thing tend to be more consistent and may build muscle more easily, but they’re also less likely to find a workout buddy.
Morning exercisers tend to be more consistent than afternoon exercisers. This is because the chance of something coming up is much less at 5am than at 5pm. If your friends, your boss and your family are all still asleep there’s no one to pull you away from your workout. For this reason, morning workouts are great if you struggle to make time for your fitness later in the day. Plus, if you finish your workout before work you’re free to do whatever you like (or need to) in the evening!
The downside of getting up before everyone else is that it’s a lot harder to find a workout buddy. Most people like to stay asleep at 5am, so it’s a harder sell when you’re searching for a girlfriend to share spinning with. If you’re the type that needs a lot of external motivation to exercise, this may be a problem. The solution? Consider hiring a personal trainer to keep you accountable, or find buddies at the gym also like getting up early.
On the plus side, gyms are usually less crowded in the early AM hours as compared than in the evening. If you find yourself constantly waiting for machines or bothered by the hoards of people, consider a morning workout. Morning exercisers are often keep to a stricter schedule (since they have to get to work), so they also tend to socialize less between sets. This means faster turnover of gym machines and less waiting time for you. Less talking, more sweating!
Better for Muscle Building
You may not feel like reaching for those dumbbells first thing in the morning, it may be the best time to build muscle. Testosterone, the male sex hormone that’s present in both men and women, peaks in these early morning hours. It’s critical for building lean body mass (muscle) and maintaining bone strength. So, if you’ve wanting to strength train, morning may be the best time to squeeze in those hill runs or time in the weight room!
More Efficient for Fat Burning (Maybe…)
Some experts suggest that exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat. Unless you’re doing some sort of intermittent fasting regimen, the easiest time to ensure an empty stomach (without being miserable) is first thing in the morning.
However, this advice is highly-debated. It comes from the idea that you’ll burn more fat (in the form of free fatty acids) if your body is out of other fuel. That other fuel specifically refers to glycogen, which is the form of sugar that your muscles store and use for energy. In theory – yes, you do burn more free fatty acids if glycogen stores are depleted… but you also feel pretty bad. On top of that, most of us don’t actually deplete our energy stores between dinner and a workout the next morning, so glycogen depletion is neither likely nor ideal. Plus, studies have shown skipping your pre-workout snack doesn’t make a significant difference in fat-burning for the average person.
Gives You All-Day Energy
Research shows that regular exercise gives you more energy than a cup of coffee, and may even surpass the energy boost you receive from stimulant medications like phentermine. Many of us drink coffee or tea in the morning to help ‘start our engines’, but what about a quick walk instead? While taking phentermine, it’s not advisable to consume large amounts of caffeine due to the medications already-stimulating effect. So, if you’re feeling fatigued try incorporating a few morning workouts instead.
Promotes Better Sleep
Having trouble sleeping on phentermine? Think about squeezing in a morning workout. Research shows that morning exercisers experience the most sleep benefits, as compared to people that workout later in the day. According to sleep.org, “people who work out on a treadmill at 7:00am sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber…”. Still, if morning workouts aren’t your thing, exercise at any time of day improves sleep quality to different degrees. The only caveat: don’t exercise right before bed. Increasing your heart rate and body temperature late at night can make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
More of a night owl? No worries – there’s some definite benefits to evening exercise as well! Exercisers that get moving later in the day benefit from naturally-higher body temperature and lung function to make workouts easier. Plus, evening sweat sessions are a great way to de-stress after a long day.
One major upside to evening workouts is the social aspect. It’s much easier to recruit your buddies into attending a dance class or outdoor cross-training class in the evening. If you’re already planning on getting together, it’s more natural to simply suggest an alternate activity instead of trying to convince your friends to change their whole routine.
You’re also more likely to find fun classes and special activities in the evening hours. So, if you love trying new workouts or going to themed classes, evening workouts may be for you!
On a more biological level, your body is also better-prepared for hard workouts in later in the day. Your body temperature peaks in the late afternoon to early evening. As a result, most people experience a peak in strength between 3pm and 6pm. This is why many loyal gym-goers report they can run faster or lift more in the afternoons, even with minimal increase in perceived exertion.
Workouts in the afternoon or early evening are also least likely to produce an exercise-related injury. Your muscles and joints are at their most flexible and your hand-eye coordination peaks during this time. So, afternoon or early evening is an ideal time to play some tennis or check out that new yoga studio!
Lung function also peaks in the evening hours. This means your lungs are better able to provide oxygen to your tired muscles during workouts. At the same time, they’re also more effective at getting rid of carbon dioxide – the waste product that our cells produce when they burn energy. So, better lung function means more efficient gas exchange, which means you’re less likely to feel out of breath with increased activity. As with body temperature, maximum lung function makes it easier to work out harder and for longer periods of time later in the day.
Helps You De-Stress
Exercise has lots of benefits, but one of its most celebrated roles is as a healthy and productive way to de-stress. Exercise is known to release endorphins, chemicals in your brain that help you feel better. It also promotes a meditative state to help you disconnect and relax. These short-term boosts, in combination with the long-term benefits gained from higher self-confidence and better sleep, make exercise a great mental health maintenance tool.
Exercise helps at any time of day, but if you tend to come home stressed, hitting the gym is a great way to blow off some steam! Instead of resorting to emotional eating or alcohol, go for a walk around the neighborhood or try some of these home exercises.
So… When is the best time to workout?
Both morning and evening workouts have their pluses and minuses. So, when is the best time to workout? Ultimately, it’s the time when you’ll consistently make it work! Weight loss is – at its most basic – burning more calories than you consume. So, breaking a sweat each day and burning a few hundred calories is key to long-term weight loss.
If you’re an early bird, morning may be the more natural choice. If you’re a night owl, perhaps evening is better. Still, be conscientious of your lifestyle and demands on your time. If you frequently get stuck at work or grab dinner with friends, it’s probably not best to schedule after-work sweat sessions. Similarly, if you’re often up late at night, early morning workouts may not be the most practical choice.
Bottom line: pick a time that works for you. Exercise is exercise at any time of day, and it’s great for you no matter the hour. The most important thing is that you make activity part of your routine each and every day.
When do you like to workout? Are you a morning or evening exerciser? Share with us in the comments section below!