Working out in the morning used to be the only way— or at least, what was considered to bring the best results. However, with today’s hectic schedules, varying work shifts, and social commitments, a lot of us have begun pushing that notion aside. Scientists are finally opening up to studies pointing us to other options.
Which Time is Best to Workout?
We want our exercise schedules to count, and so we mull over training plans that work to our advantage. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you so you could choose which time of day would be best for a spin class or an intense weight lifting session.
Everyone attests to working out early in the morning. Studies show that working out in the morning on an empty stomach burns fat best, so a morning exercise is ideal for people looking to lose weight. It’s because the body’s hormonal composition in the morning supports fat burning goals, a sport science professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hills states.
In the early morning hours, your hormonal profile predisposes you to better metabolism of fat. Elevated levels of cortisol and HGH (Human Growth Hormone), both involved in metabolism, help you draw more energy from your fat reserves, which can potentially help with weight loss. Research also suggests that people who exercise in the morning may have less appetite throughout the day, which keeps them from putting on more weight.
Healthy Morning Habits
Trying to work out early, even if you’re an alarm snoozer, may actually be easy to get into. A study found that exercising at 7 am may change your body clock earlier, which means you’ll feel more alert in the morning and get tired earlier in the evening, preparing you to get enough rest at night and to get you to wake up early to do the same routine the next day.
Some research also suggests that healthy habits completed in the morning are easier to stick to, and may lead to better mental health and productivity throughout the day. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to force yourself to wake up early if you’re not a morning person. Forcing yourself to exercise early in the morning may cause you to not expend as much energy due to a lack of motivation. In which case, your workouts tend to be less efficient and you may be better off sleeping in and getting more rest if you find it really difficult to exercise in the morning.
People may swear by the benefits of early morning sweat outs, but if it just can’t be done, it’s no biggie. According to research, the body could adapt to regular gym dates, so lifting every day at 4pm may mean performing better at that time than at any other time of the day. Apparently, sticking to a specific workout time can result in better performance, higher oxygen consumption, and lower perceived exhaustion. However, establishing a workout schedule may be more complicated than just choosing a time.
An important factor in determining the quality of your exercise is your body’s core temperature. A cold body leaves muscles stiff, inefficient and prone to sprains, while a higher body temperature means more flexible muscles. The body’s temperature tends to increase throughout the day, so muscle strength and endurance may peak in the afternoon when the temperature is highest. Reaction time is quickest and heart rate and blood pressure are lowest, which results in an improvement in performance and fewer injuries.
Hormone levels are also important to determine optimal workout time. Testosterone, which is responsible for increased muscle mass and tone, is produced more in the afternoon than in the morning, so afternoon training could be just as great!
Working Out In The Evening
The myth about working out late in the evening has been busted. Despite previous suggestions that discouraged exercising within four hours of bedtime, there’s evidence to suggest that there are perks to evening workouts.
Swiss researchers claim intense exercise performed one and a half hours before bedtime was associated with falling asleep faster and deeper, and better mood the next day.
While studies about morning workouts have gained more traction, a recent study found that nighttime workouts do not disrupt sleep, and can actually reduce levels of hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which could help with weight loss and weight loss management.
Importance Of A Well-Rested Body
In the end, no matter what time of the day you do your workout, if you’re exercising with little to no sleep, if you’re not well-rested, it’s not going to be worth it. Working out exhausted or without sleep will lead to sub-par workout performances, higher risks of injury, and a negative impact on your immune system. Not to mention, working out tired and sleepless means slower metabolism and muscle recovery, so you’re not really doing much for your body.
If anything, you should aim for a balance between intense workouts and ample rest. Sleep and rest are just as important for weight loss and muscle gains. Not only do you reach your weight goals more efficiently, working out well-rested means you’re well-conditioned to perform at your best.