It’s a debate that seems to never be resolved: When is the best time to exercise? Are you more likely to experience the benefits and fun of exercising in the morning, afternoon, or after the sun goes down?
The related research results did not draw definite conclusions. However, many studies have found that exercising in the morning is more effective. One of the studies looked at people who exercised early in the morning and in the afternoon, and found that people who exercised in the morning had lower blood pressure throughout the day and they slept better.
Still, other studies have shown that people exercise more in the early evening. The study found that participants were at their best in grip strength, vertical jumping, and even reaction time between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. compared to other times of the day.
For each individual, the answer is simple: the best time to exercise is any time you can. Whether you prefer exercising in the morning or evening, you can experience the good feeling of exercising, and both time periods are backed by scientific evidence. The key is to choose the time period that works best for you.
First, let’s look at the benefits of exercising in the morning, which are backed up by the conclusions of many exercise scientists. There are definitely benefits to exercising in the morning. Morning exercisers tend to be more likely to stick with it in the long run. When exercising during this time, daily life is usually less hindered.
Starting with healthy lifestyle choices can also have a snowball effect throughout the day. I’m too busy at home to go to the gym early in the morning, what should I do? Set your alarm 10 to 15 minutes in advance, then do some simple stretches or bodyweight exercises by your bedside.
If weight loss or weight management is part of your fitness goals, you should also consider completing your workout in the morning. A study from Tehran Medical University in Iran showed that morning exercise (specifically moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise) was more effective than evening training in controlling appetite, caloric intake and weight loss.
Compared with overweight women who exercised in the afternoon, overweight women who exercised in the morning felt fuller and had better control of their appetite. Exercising in the morning was also associated with greater weight loss.
The study showed that those who exercised after waking up lost more weight than those who did the same amount of exercise later in the day. Even if weight loss isn’t part of your fitness goals, exercising in the morning has other benefits that are worth setting an alarm ahead of time.
On average, women who exercised in the morning exercised 20 minutes more throughout the day than women who exercised in the evening. So how do these benefits stack up against scientifically supported benefits of exercising in the afternoon or evening?
First, you can use the benefits of working out in the afternoon or evening to promote better rest. While the effect of sleep on exercise has been debated, some studies suggest that exercise can actually improve sleep.
High-intensity exercise in the evening did not disrupt the sleep of endurance runners, but improved their sleep quality, according to research from Liverpool John Moores University in the UK.
If you’re concerned that exercise might make you over-excited rather than relaxed, research from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland shows that strenuous exercise actually has no effect on sleep quality.
Other factors that may make people prefer to exercise in the evening include: better athletic performance. A study by biological scientists at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom shows that competitive athletes perform better in the evening.
For some athletes, peak exercise levels are not reached until 11 hours after they wake up. The benefits of exercising in the evening are also reflected in other ways. Research results from The Ohio State University show that combined strength and endurance training at night can lead to an increase in muscle weight.
However, it’s important to point out that the participants only saw these results when they trained for more than 12 weeks, which means that consistent exercise is key. No matter what time you choose to exercise, as long as you stick to it, you will have real rewards.