well really whenever you have time in my opinion! There are pluses and minuses to working out at different points of the day but I think it really comes down to what works best for your body and your schedule. Part of me would like to tell you that I workout at the same time everyday and never waiver from a particular schedule but that is very far from the truth. I workout whenever I have time depending on what my day looks like. I do try to put together a schedule for my weekly workouts each Sunday so I have a good blueprint for the week but again life has a funny way of throwing us curveballs that can change even the best laid out plans.
A great example of this was my day last Monday. I planned to workout as soon as I got home from work because I scheduled a sweat sesh with a friend of mine who I have been training. Wouldn’t you know it though, as I was driving home life decided it had other ideas of how I was to spend my evening! I made it about halfway to my house and I hit one of the gazillion potholes that the county I live in seems to not care too much about fixing. One blown out tire later (that was of course a brand new tire just to add insult to injury) and my workout plans were put on the back burner. It took me about 4 hours until was finally able to make it back home at which point I was half-starved and completely drained. Instead of pressing play and working out I made the executive decision to scarf down three pieces of pizza and a much-needed glass of wine. I was a little grumpy to have missed my workout but I also knew that I would get right back on track tomorrow and besides life is all about balance right? I am a firm believer that a little pizza and wine after a very long Monday is good for the soul on occasion!
The point of that story is life happens. I had planned out my whole fitness schedule for the week just the night before and in less than 24 hours a monkey wrench with thrown into those plans. Things like car trouble, last minute dinner dates, sick kids, meetings that pop-up out of no where happen all the time. For me, I was noticing that they seemed to happen quite frequently so several months back I decided to try to start waking up about 30 minutes earlier and getting my workout done first thing in the morning so no matter what came up throughout the day my workout was already in the books. I am happy to report that this schedule has been working really well for me which is actually a huge surprise because I am NOT a morning person by nature. I am, however, becoming more of one, and I am really loving getting up a little earlier and spending 30 minutes of quiet time on myself before the insanity of the day starts.
No matter when you choose to workout, however, the most important thing is that you just hold yourself accountable to just getting it done! Like I mentioned earlier, there are pluses and minuses to working out a different times of the day and like everything health and fitness related you have to figure out what fits your needs and your body the best. Below is some of the info I found interesting when I was looking into when to schedule my own workouts:
- You get it out of the way! Life does not interrupt me nearly as much at 6am as it does at 6pm.
- Working out first thing in the morning means I am more consistent with making sure my workouts get done which if you are just starting out makes getting into that all-important workout habit easier and quicker.
- Concentration during the day has been shown to be improved with morning workouts
- Tends to increase energy levels throughout the day as well as boosts your mood which is great first thing in the morning if you are not all sunshine and rainbows first thing in the morning normally 😊
- Its been shown that a fasted workout (working out before you eat anything for the day) lends itself to greater fat loss.
- Studies have also shown that people who workout in the morning tend to sleep better at night. Morning workouts promote a more restful night’s sleep party because activity early in the day lowers blood pressure and even heart rate which both promote better sleep quality.
- Your body tends to be stiffer and colder in the morning which means you are more prone to injury if not properly warmed up
- Some types of exercises are more effective in the evening. For instance, weight/strength training has been shown to be better exercise to do at night whereas aerobic exercises like walking and running are more effective in the morning
- It can be hard to create a habit of morning workouts if you are not a morning person. Now I am proof that it is possible but it can be tough to pull yourself out of bed if you are not naturally an early riser.
- For me, afternoon workouts are the next best thing to morning ones. Especially because I sit at a desk all day for work, so being able to get up for 30-45 minutes mid-day is a great way to recharge and refocus for the second half of the day
- Along the same lines as refocusing, afternoon workouts can relieve some of the stresses that a busy morning can bring and prepare you to better take on the afternoon workload
- Your body temperature has risen since first thing in the morning and you aren’t as stiff which makes injury less likely
- I also find that exercise in the afternoon helps me to avoid eating large lunches and/or snacking a bunch once afternoon hits
- Far more distractions mid-day than there are in the morning! Emails, phone calls, texts all tend to start pouring in throughout the day and to have those things go off while you are trying to workout can mean you aren’t as focused on a getting a quality workout in and/or you cut your workout short to deal with whatever issues may arising
- Consistently being able wot workout at midday is much harder than in the morning. Again, last minute meetings pop-up, lunch dates get thrown on the schedule, a big project falls behind and you need to work through lunch to finish it… all things that can easily happen on any given day
- If you are into aerobic type workouts you may find that your body doesn’t respond quite as well in the afternoon. Studies have shown our actual lung function is at its lowest point right about mid-day which may explain why that jog in the afternoon is a bit harder than it would be first thing in the AM
- You are already warmed up and fueled up. You have been moving around all day which again makes injury less likely and your body more ready for action. You have also been eating and drinking all day which means hopefully you are hydrated and have more energy to crush a good, long workout
- You may have more time than in the morning or afternoon. Before work or on a lunch break you are much more likely to be strapped for time which means you could be forced to get a shorter workout in as opposed to in the evening when you may have less of a time constraint.
- It’s a great time to work off all the stress of the day! No matter what has happened throughout the day, if I workout at night all of those worries seem to lessen and my mind is clearer when I lay down to go to sleep. It’s also a much better alternative than trying to find stress relief at the bottom of a potato chip bag or an extra-large beer!
- Evening workouts are great for those of us who love strength training! Testosterone levels tend to be higher in the evening for both men and women which means you can both raise your metabolism more in the evening and gain muscle mass more easily than with morning workouts
- Poorer quality sleep – Working out in the evening raises your heart rate which can cause side effects such as anxiety and insomnia.
- Distractions/Interruptions are much more common in the evening. Again, think that last minute dinner invite, a work day that runs later than usual, traffic (which if you live somewhere like DC where I live you know can cause you to be home HOURS later than anticipated)!
- I don’t know about you but after a long day of work and running around my energy levels are a lot lower at night. It is much more tempting to get home from a long day and just want to sit on the couch and wind down. For me, finding the motivation to workout at night is much harder than in the morning or afternoon.
- If you workout in a gym they are MUCH busier in the evenings after everyone gets off work. This was a huge deterrent for me when I was regularly going to the gym became it was so hard to get on the machines I wanted to use. I happily found a program I can do from home which eliminates this problem for me but if the gym is your primary place to workout crowds are the worst in the evenings.
There is no definitive answer to the question of what time of day is best to workout in my opinion. Everyone’s schedule is different and maybe more importantly everyone’s body is different! Finding what works best for you is the most important part of scheduling your workouts. You want to do everything you can to set yourself up for success in building the workout habit. Trial and error may be part of this process as well which is perfectly ok. I myself am still getting used to the morning schedule because I am not naturally a morning person but getting results that you may have never gotten before often takes pushing yourself a little out of your comfort zone (or that comfortable bed in the morning!). At the end of the day, getting that workout in no matter what time of the day it is, is what really matters! Morning, noon or night….just get moving!