Some people jump out of bed early to start their day with a run, while others can’t imagine working out before noon.
When it comes to fitting in some exercise, the best time can depend on personal preference and physiology.
Although exercise is meant to be enjoyable, tight muscles in the morning or late-night workouts disrupting sleep can make it counterproductive. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of working out at different times of the day.
What are the Advantages of Morning Workouts?
Getting out of bed, lacing up your sneakers, and heading to the gym might be the last thing you want to do when the alarm goes off. However, there are some compelling reasons to consider a morning workout.
Consistency in your routine
Research suggests that sticking to morning workouts may be easier because there are usually fewer social and work events planned in the morning. It’s also simpler to add exercise to an existing morning routine.
Other studies indicate that while people maintained their workout routines regardless of the time, adherence was highest among those who exercised in the morning. On the flip side, afternoon and evening workouts may clash with other daily responsibilities, and a full day of work can drain willpower, making it harder to follow through with evening plans to hit the gym.
Keeping a morning workout routine may be more straightforward. Leaving the house before you have a chance to doubt yourself and you can be on the exercise machines by the time you’re fully awake.
More free time
Consider this if you’ve already completed your workout by 5 p.m., you have more time to spend with friends or family or indulge in activities you enjoy, like hobbies.
You Could Experience Less Pain
If you use movement and exercise to manage chronic pain, consider switching to a morning workout. A study found that people who exercised in the morning reported less bodily pain compared to those who exercised in the evening.
Better sleep might be in store
Morning workouts could be beneficial if you struggle with restless nights. Research indicates that people who exercise in the morning tend to sleep more efficiently, spending less time awake in bed, and experiencing fewer nighttime awakenings. While some studies suggest evening exercise improves sleep, most agree that morning workouts are generally more beneficial. If you currently hit the gym at 7 p.m. and struggle with sleep, trying 7 a.m. might be worth a shot.
Reduced hunger could be a bonus
A review of studies suggests that exercise can help control appetite after a workout. Additionally, a study found that women who exercised in the morning had a lower calorie intake compared to those who worked out in the evening. If you want to keep hunger at bay later in the day, a morning workout might be a good fit for you.
Possibly burn more fat
Research has shown that exercising on an empty stomach can lead to burning more body fat, and it’s often easier to do this in the morning than at night.
What are the Advantages of Evening Workouts?
If squeezing in a morning workout isn’t your thing, don’t worry about it—there are several reasons why exercising later in the day can also be a smart choice.
Potential for better performance
Studies have consistently shown that people tend to perform better at short-duration maximal exercises, such as intense swimming, cycling, jumping, sprinting, and resistance exercises, in the evening.
Already warmed up
In the evening, your body temperature is naturally higher, leading to warmer muscles. Warmer muscles are linked to improved performance. Research indicates that exposure to warm weather/humid conditions and pre-workout warmups can bring morning workout performance more in line with evening performance. While you can make adjustments to enhance morning workout performance, your body has a natural advantage in the evening.
Possibility of bigger gains
A study discovered that individuals who worked out in the evening gained more muscle mass between weeks 13 to 24 of consistent training compared to those who exercised in the morning. For those aiming to build significant muscle, evening workouts might be more effective in the long run. Hormone levels, especially testosterone, also contribute to optimal workout time. Late afternoon resistance training might result in higher testosterone production compared to morning workouts.
Potentially higher motivation
Motivation is a significant hurdle for many people when it comes to working out. One study suggests that it’s more challenging to stay motivated for a morning training program. If getting to the gym is a constant struggle, evening workouts might be more sustainable in the long run. Additionally, it’s worth noting that cleaning also boosts motivation, offering another way to energise yourself for your fitness routine.
The best time depends on you
Research indicates that your chronotype, whether you’re a morning or evening person, can influence your peak performance time. Whether you prefer morning or evening workouts, stick with what suits you. However, if your current workout schedule isn’t effective, it’s possible to make a change. The body may adapt to regular exercise, allowing you to perform better at the specific time you choose for your workouts. This aligns with research suggesting that regular exercise could alter your circadian rhythm over time.
Ultimately, exercising is beneficial regardless of when you do it during the day. To enhance your results, consider maintaining consistency. Research indicates that individuals who work out consistently at the same time each day tend to achieve better outcomes, whether they choose morning, noon, or night for their gym sessions.
If working out in the morning aligns with your schedule, ensure you warm up muscles that might be cold and tight from sleep.
For consistent afternoon workouts, treat them as non-negotiable appointments, consider having a workout buddy, and keep a gym bag in your car or office to reduce excuses.
In the grand scheme of things, the most crucial aspect is to establish a realistic and consistent workout routine, regardless of the time you choose.