With a busy schedule and tons of other commitments, it can be difficult to find the time to squeeze in a good workout. That’s why, if you’re working out at all, you’re already on the right path to fit living. There’s definitely no bad time to work out! But breaking a sweat at certain times of the day can be more beneficial than working out at other times. Depending on your goals and lifestyle, planning your exercise during these prime windows can improve your fitness and make your sweat sessions more effective. Here’s what you need to know.
The benefits of morning workouts
A 2012 study from researchers at Brigham Young University, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, looked at how women reacted to food after exercising first thing in the morning. All 35 of the participants – healthy and obese – took a brisk 45-minute walk after waking up. Throughout the day, they were less distracted by crave-inducing food photos than when they didn’t exercise at all. They also increased their physical activity throughout the day after walking in the morning.
Waking up and putting in a good workout sets you up for a day of healthier habits. Since you started the day on a positive note health-wise, you’re more likely to make healthier choices until it’s time for bed. According to Women’s Health magazine, morning exercise boosts metabolism, too, so you’ll be burning calories during the day as you take them in. Research has also found that people have lower blood pressure throughout the day after a morning workout and get more restful sleep.
Exercise between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. for the most benefits.
The benefits of evening workouts
Evening workouts have their own benefits, though. While your sleep quality could suffer if you exercise too close to bedtime, breaking a sweat between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. could make your sessions more effective. For starters, your body is more likely to be fueled up for a workout after engaging in healthy eating habits all day. Also, a 2010 study published in the journal Chronobiology International found that as body and environmental temperature increase in the late afternoon, so does the body’s enzyme activity and muscular function, meaning you’re at your peak energy levels.
Getting a workout in after work can also have benefits for your mental health. According to Shape magazine, studies have linked weight gain to increased stress levels because of the release of cortisol. Cortisol has also been shown to increase a person’s desire for unhealthy foods. Exercising and releasing feel-good endorphins after a tough day is a super productive way to relieve stress.
It’s up to you
When it comes down to it, it’s totally up to you whether you want to work out first thing in the morning or in the evening. Aside from the health benefits, there are plenty of reasons why a certain time can be more convenient. Smaller crowds at the gym could influence when you work out, or having a free hour before the kids get home from their after-school activities. As long as you’re exercising regularly, you can’t go wrong.