The best times to exercise vary from person to person and might depend on your location, your work schedule, your circadian rhythm, what you’re trying to get from your workout and, of course, your willpower.
Some swear by an early morning jog at sunrise. While that’s great if you’re a film star who lives on Malibu Beach, the streets of Chinatown at 6 a.m. may not be quite so much fun, unless you count dodging delivery trucks as an enjoyable pastime!
So take five minutes to sit back, relax and learn which time of day might best suit you.
The Best Time to Exercise for Weight Loss
It’s long been known that morning workouts kickstart your metabolism, so you burn more calories during the day, which is great. But recent evidence suggests – apologies if this strikes horror into your hearts – that exercising first thing when you’ve woken up and on an empty stomach might be the best way to lose weight.
Research from The University of Bath, England, covered by Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times suggests that working out early in the morning helps speed up weight loss and also boosts energy levels by priming the body to burn fat for the remainder of the day.
The reason before-breakfast exercise is so effective is the body must tap into its fat reserves for fuel, as opposed to simply burning off your most recent meal… like all those pancakes with maple syrup you’ve just scoffed!
The Best Time to Exercise for Muscle Gain
We’d have loved to break this question down to one simple equation like “Mornings for weight loss and evenings for muscle growth,” but there are so many factors involved that we’ve only got time to delve into one of the most important muscle gaining factors today- testosterone. More testosterone means more muscle.
Regardless of whether you’re a guy or a girl, testosterone levels peak in the morning, meaning it’s best to workout in the morning.
For muscle building, it is best to have two meals to give your body energy to use at the gym. If you wake up at 7 am for instance, eat when you wake up then eat another mini-meal at 10:00, let your food go down then hit the gym at 11:00 for muscle building.
“That’s all very well…” we hear you cry ”but what about my work/life/job…”
The Best Time to Exercise if you don’t have the time
We all lead busy lives and finding time can be next to impossible, but there are ways to schedule time to exercise.
One way is to schedule some ME TIME – even put it in your diary and stick to it like you would a business meeting. Exercising at the weekend is another option; after a hard week at work, it’s natural to want to relax but an hour working out, twice a week is the best way to treat yourself.
Requiring two changes of clothes and a shower, running during your lunch break requires at least an hour but walking or cycling to or from work requires just one quick change. You can double the length of your workout by jogging to the gym instead of driving. Taking the stairs instead of catching the elevator twenty times a week will do wonders.
If you have kids, some gyms now have kid’s rooms. Failing that, work out at home watching a keep fit video or lace up those sneakers, stick them in the stroller and hit the park. Bear in mind that any exercise is better than none at all… and speaking with bears in mind:
The Best Time to Exercise to Improve Sleep
If dodging Chinatown delivery trucks isn’t exciting enough for you, a fun way to lose weight is running from bears along The Appalachian Trail. Yeah, they look cute, but they’ll eat you for breakfast.
A study from The Appalachian State University found that people who exercised at 7:00 a.m. (pumping iron in this instance) fell asleep faster than those who did their exercise in the afternoon or evenings or did no exercise at all.
Those who pumped iron at 7:00 p.m. not only slept through the night better than non-exercisers but also better than the morning group. This evidence seems to suggest morning workouts are best if you have trouble falling asleep, while evening exercise is better if you have difficulty staying asleep.
Yoga is also a great way to improve sleep. That’s how bears prepare for hibernation – by becoming Yogi Bears! If you’re a bear and you have sleep problems, your best time to exercise is all day, every day from March through October.