Many people often wonder when the best time of day is to workout. This answer can change based on who you talk to. Some people swear by morning workouts, while other swear by evening workouts. The short answer? Well, it depends.
A recent news story pointed out the morning as the best time to exercise. This is because exercising at night can interrupt sleep cycles. There is some truth to this statement. Exercising within 2 to 3 hours of bed time can affect a person’s sleep, because of the increased release of hormones from the workout. However, this all depends on the type of workout. An evening session of yoga or pilates can help to reduce stress and ease the mind. Further still, the National Sleep Foundation performed a “Sleep in America” poll in 2013 which found that an overwhelming majority of people slept better if they exercise period. The time of day did not matter.
Depending on your goal, morning exercise can also be advantageous. For people looking to decrease body fat, low intensity morning exercise on an empty stomach may help. Because the body is low on carbohydrate stores, it must mobilize fat stores to provide the body with energy. This may help to reduce body fat. Cortisol levels are also highest in the morning. A morning exercise routine can help to reduce these levels over time, resulting in decreased weight gain and even weight loss.
However, for people looking to increase muscle mass, afternoon or evening exercise may be best. Between 3-7pm, cortisol levels are at their lowest and testosterone levels are at their highest. Cortisol has a catabolic effect on muscle, resulting in it’s breakdown, where as testosterone has the opposite effect. So it would make sense to strength train when muscle building potential is the highest. Core body temperature is also at an optimal level, resulting in increased nerve conductivity, more flexible joints, and improved cardiovascular performance.
All of this information is great, but what does this mean for the average individual? Well, unless you are a marathon runner or body builder, the best time of the day to workout is whenever you have the chance. The body will adapt itself to optimize whatever training schedule you can stick to. The key to making progress is consistency, so if that means you are a 5:30am trainer, or a 5:30pm trainer, stick to it and you will see success.
For more information, see some great articles below: