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Best time to workout: Exercise isn’t optional. It’s not only good for aerobic conditioning, muscle strength, and athletic performance but it improves your blood glucose levels, as well as your respiratory, cardiovascular, joint, and emotional health. Yet many people wonder when is the best time to work out to get the most benefits out of it. We are all unique and different. We have different genes, predispositions, lifestyles, and goals. Therefore, there is not a specific time that is the most beneficial for everyone.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the factors to consider when scheduling your workouts, when exercise timing is irrelevant, what are the benefits of working out in the morning, and the pros of exercising in the afternoon or night.

Factors to Consider When Scheduling Workouts

There is not a time that works for everybody. So, you should keep in mind different factors when scheduling your workouts. Take into consideration your availability and identify your body’s internal clock. Think about the following questions and be honest with yourself: are you a morning person or is your energy level higher in the afternoon? When does working out feel better for you? When is the best time in which you can realistically exercise?

When Exercise Timing is Irrelevant

Sometimes the time of the day in which you exercise doesn’t matter. If you have a condition, exercise training should be a regular component of your healing protocol. But if you are dealing with a health condition or not, the best time to work out is the time in which you are actually gonna do it.

  • Exercise is beneficial for everyone and, many times, the time of the day doesn’t play a significant role. Research has shown that exercise plays an important role in the prevention of many diseases, the promotion of healthy longevity, and the treatment of conditions such as depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease among others.
  • If you have cardiovascular issues, you benefit equally from exercising in the morning and in the afternoon.
  • Exercise timing doesn’t seem to have a great impact on general fitness performance. Studies show that performance and VO2max (the maximum capacity of the body to take in, transport, and use oxygen during exercise – this reflects cardiorespiratory fitness) don’t seem to be significantly affected by the time of the workout (AM vs.PM).
  • The time in which you exercise doesn’t appear to affect food consumption either. Studies show that morning exercise can have an effect on satiety levels (feeling full) in comparison with afternoon exercise but appetite and food intake are not affected by different workout times.
  • Exercise timing doesn’t seem relevant for people with asthma. A study compared the effects of regular asthma treatment (asthma medication and education) along with supplementary physical training at different times in asthmatic children. Children were divided into a morning exercise group, an afternoon exercise group, and a group with no exercise. Children in the training program showed improvements at many levels (respiratory muscle strength, resting heart rate, running distance, and sit-up performance) in comparison with the children who didn’t exercise. However, there were no significant differences between those exercising in the morning compared to the afternoon. 

That being said, working out in the morning and working out in the latter part of the day have both unique advantages. Read on to identify what’s the best time of the day to exercise according to your specific circumstances. Learn all the benefits associated with working out in the morning and the pros of exercising in the afternoon.

Benefits of Morning Exercise

The following are some reasons why you should exercise in the morning:

  • If you don’t necessarily love working out, it may be better to do it in the morning so you get it done. Many times, afternoon workouts get postponed or canceled because people prefer to engage in other activities more enticing to them.
  • If you have high blood pressure, you may want to work out in the morning. Moderate-intensity exercise early morning (7 a.m.) has shown to evoke optimal changes in blood pressure and improve sleep overall. Another study showed that post-exercise hypotension occurs at different times of day, but the systolic hypotensive effect and reductions of cardiac output are greater after morning exercise.
  • If you have sleep issues, you may want to work out in the morning. A study showed that morning exercise decreases the number of wake stages, helping improve nocturnal sleep quality.
  • If you want to feel energized and uplifted throughout the day, you may want to train in the morning. Exercise has a positive impact on your energy, confidence, and mood. So working out early can positively impact your day.   
  • If you want to increase your activity levels during the day, working out in the morning can help. Research shows that exercising in the morning increases non-exercise physical activity throughout the day.
  • If you are a teenager or have adolescents, morning exercise has great effects on them. Research has shown that early workouts are great for their body but also help improve cognitive function during school.
  • If you have a sporting event or want to enhance exercise performance in the afternoon, you may want to engage in low-intensity exercise in the morning. A study showed that doing low-intensity cardio in the morning produced higher physical fitness test scores and anaerobic power in the afternoon.  

Pros of Working Out Latter in the Day

The following are some reasons why you should workout in the afternoon or night:

  • If you want to release some stress from your day, you may want to exercise in the latter part of the day. Research shows that working out improves the way your body handles stress by affecting hormonal responses and neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin) that influence mood and behavior. Exercise, also, serves as a break from stressors and provides a calming effect.
  • If you have issues with stiffness or conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid, or osteoarthritis, you may want to work out in the evening. Studies show that evening exercise decreases stiffness and increases mobility the following day.
  • If you have type 2 diabetes, you may benefit from exercising in the afternoon. A study showed that high-intensity interval training was more efficacious than morning HIIT at improving blood glucose in those with type 2 diabetes. Another study showed that blood glucose rose during fasted morning resistance training, whereas it declined with the same afternoon workout. Hyperglycemia and blood glucose concentration were also more frequent and higher after fasted morning exercise than after afternoon sessions.
  • If you feel very overheated when working out, you may want to exercise in the afternoon because the body’s ability to remove heat load is higher in the late afternoon. Research shows that, compared to morning sessions, skin blood flow is higher and body-temperature-increments during exercise are lower during afternoon sessions.
  • If you play basketball, you may want to do your strength and conditioning training in the afternoon. A study showed that basketball players had better performance (jump height & power), and reported better sleep duration when engaging in training in the afternoon versus in the morning.

Exercise helps you to avoid disease, live longer healthier, and maintain a positive state of mind. There is evidence to advocate exercise at different times of the day according to specific situations. In the big picture though, there are no humongous differences between morning and afternoon training. The main factor making a difference in your desired results is staying consistent with exercise. The best time to work out is the time of the day in which you are actually gonna get it done, whether you do it in the morning or in the afternoon.

To a Healthier Fitter You,

Adriana Albritton

The Fitness Wellness Mentor

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