Have you been trying to fit an exercise session around your busy schedule and failing miserably? Did you know you can exercise at any time of the day? While most people tout mornings as the best time to exercise, there are many times when you can choose to exercise each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Exercise is great for your health and also serves to make you feel better about yourself, look better in all aspects and perform better both at work and at home. It increases the feeling of happiness and productivity energizing you to work harder, smarter and better in all the various aspects of your life. Fortunately, regardless of your busy career and social life, you can still find the time best suited to fit your schedule or maximize your fitness goals and hence be motivated to stick with it. So, what is the best time for a workout? Here is a case for the various times to exercise:

Lunchtime

Advantages

  • A lunchtime exercise is a great idea as you are alert and your muscles have already sufficiently warmed up such that the risk of injury is really low. It can be quite easy to form a regular habit of exercising during your lunch hour rather than carving out some free time away from your desk during the rest of the day. This is especially if you find your time in the morning being rather limited due to a commute and preparation and the evenings due to the same reasons not to mention trying to squeeze in some quality family time.
  • A workout in the middle of the day is also great at relieving stress and also making you sharper and more alert and therefore best suited in tackling your afternoon tasks. It is also a great way to ensure you eat a healthy lunch and look forward to a filling and healthy early dinner. It is also early enough not to interfere with your bedtime as a workout close to bedtime can keep you too alert and hence disrupt your sleeping patterns.
  • Working out in the afternoon boosts performance. Not only are afternoons exercisers more suited at complex exercises but also, they are more adept at nailing resistance training and reaping its benefits.
  • Due to the warmed up muscles, you will be less prone to injuries as your core body temperature is higher and your blood pressure lower making your reaction time quicker. The afternoon is therefore a great time to do speed and strength training workouts such as the high intensity interval training (HIIT).

Disadvantage

Unfortunately, working out during your lunch hour can be time limiting and it is hard to get a full workout in and still have time to get lunch or relax before getting your groove back on for your afternoon duties.

Morning

Advantages

  • According to a study at Appalachian State University, a morning workout is best for better quality sleep. If you want longer, deeper and more restful sleep, working out in the morning is your best bet.  Rest is of vital importance to your physical and mental health. Better sleep has many benefits such as better cardio health, decreased anxiety and stress, easier maintenance of weight hence making it harder for your weight to fluctuate, lowered blood pressure and more quality time for your body to replenish, rejuvenate and repair itself.
  • Morning workouts also help reduce blood pressure both during the day and at night. It is easy to stick to your workout if it is the first thing you do in the morning, just try it out.
  • According to the study, people who work out in the morning usually have a day of increased physicals activity that builds on their activity-filled morning. They also reap the benefits of an increased metabolism where your body tends to burn calories better as you consume them during the day instead of burning them at night while you are asleep.
  • Another argument in support of morning workouts is that exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat according to studies. Besides, the next meals you have during your day are dedicated to muscle repair and recovery and used to build new muscle tissue hence reducing the chances for fat storage in the body as the nutrients are utilized effectively.
  • Working out in the morning also gives you a positive start to your day as the endorphins and hormone serotonin released during your workout lift your mood and allows your morning to be happy, energized and productive
  • If you prefer working out at your local gym, the morning hours can be a great time to hit the gym as at this time, most gyms are less crowded and hence you can make use of the machine you want or join a class you want when there aren’t many people to compete for these amenities.

Disadvantages

  • Since your blood pressure is at its highest during the morning hours, people with heart problems should exercise later in the day.
  • You should not do a high intensity workout in the morning as you do not have the energy from at least two prior meals and you are exercising on an empty stomach.
  • Morning workouts require more time to warm up when compared to evening or lunchtime workouts.

Evening

Advantages

  • Think of an evening jog or a stroll as you enjoy the last rays of sunshine. It sounds nice doesn’t it? Evening workouts are the most popular not only because the evening is free from work.  After dealing with the daily stresses you can leave work or school feeling stressed and with no energy to dedicate to a hobby, second job, dinner preparation or any other form of unwinding. An evening workout changes that by uplifting your mood, relieving your stress and reenergizing you allowing you to be able to tackle the rest of your free time before you retire for the night.
  • According to research studies, the evening is also the best time to exercise when your goal is to gain strength and build muscle mass. It is a great time to do resistance training because your muscles are warmer. The evening also helps in ensuring you regulate the amount of calories that you consume for dinner.
  • Evening workouts are also great in terms of accountability. Not only is it easier to find a friend or colleague to exercise with but also, it is easier to find a personal trainer to help you through your sessions than one who is available in the early morning. In addition, most gyms offer a wider variety of classes in the evening than during the morning hours allowing you to try more diverse exercises if you go to the gym after work.

Disadvantages

  • There is a catch however for working out in the evening can disrupt your sleep especially if you do it so close to your bedtime. The recommended time should be at least two to three hours before bedtime to avoid increasing your hormone activity and raising your body temperature in a way that interferes with your sleep.
  • Unprecedented events can also interfere with your planned workout interrupting your consistency.

The Verdict

While different times of the day offer different advantages with regard to the type of exercise, how fast you can attain various specific goals and risk of injury, the best time to exercise is now. Start exercising now if you want to take up exercise as a habit. Never say you will start tomorrow or after you sign up for a gym membership as this is just procrastinating and can waste valuable time that you could instead be using to get in shape. However if you are already into the habit of exercising and wondering which time of the day is most suitable for you, then you should go with your gut and fitness goals.

If interested in strength training, the afternoon or evening is the best time as it is when your body is at its peak strength and pain tolerance which allows you to lift harder. If instead you would like to burn fat then a morning workout is your best bet.  You may also find that being fatigued from a long day at work and coming home to family commitments in the evening can lead to your abandoning your evening or afternoon workout or skipping sessions and training less hard. In this case, switching to a morning workout routine will be better for you as it eliminates the expectation you have of yourself to train in the evening and the guilt or disappointment you can feel whenever you skip sessions or train halfheartedly.

The importance of exercising consistently in the long run trumps the importance of exercising at a certain time of the day. It is not the time of the day that matters most but rather, it is the consistency. Any time you can schedule a workout session into your day is the best suited time for you. Whether it is the morning, afternoon or evening, as long as you are regularly exercising, your health will improve greatly.

So, are you ready to give it a try?

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