The Best Time of the Day to Exercise

Before we get into the detail, I’d like to reiterate my personal opinion that the very best time to exercise is when it suits you and when it fits best into your own lifestyle. 

It’s great to match your training schedule to the time of day you are at your most energetic, but it’s even better to choose a slot that you are most likely to consistently commit to. Whilst I’m familiar with the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy, I also know from experience that the easier something is for you, the more likely it is you will do it regularly and achieve your longer-term goals.

Just in case you feel that the above advice is of no help whatsoever, here are a few facts related to morning and evening exercise which may assist you to make what is a very individual decision: -

Morning workouts

  • • Morning workout sessions tend to be easier to stick to, mainly due to the fact that the first item on the day’s agenda is always less likely to get ‘bumped’ by other things or highjacked by other people
  • • Exercising when fasted (i.e. on an empty stomach) can burn more body fat than exercising when fed as the body isn’t able to simply use the recently-consumed food as fuel and needs instead to revert to existing fat stores
  • • Waking up earlier to fit in exercise can shift the bodies circadian rhythm – the physical, mental and behavioural changes which follow the 24 hour cycle – and this may, in turn, make you more alert in the morning and more tired at bedtime
  • • Falling into a deep sleep at bedtime has its own benefits, helping to facilitate muscle growth and increase body strength, as well as giving a boost to general well-being (don’t we all feel better after a good night’s sleep??)
  • • Research also suggests that exercising has a hugely positive effect on energy levels, alertness and focus, so undertaking a morning training routine will allow you to harness these benefits and enjoy a highly productive day of work
  • • Whilst you’re being super-productive, you’ll have a smile on your face as the happy endorphins our bodies produce in response to exercise will elevate mood for a long time after your early work out

Afternoon and Evening workouts

  • • Lots of people are slow starters and find that they function better as the day goes on, peaking in the afternoon or evening where their strength, flexibility and endurance are on a high and they can have a better, longer – perhaps even more productive – work out
  • • Core body temperature also increases as the hours pass and subsequently the pre-training warm ups can be substantially easier in the afternoon
  • • It’s not just temperature and energy levels that rise later in the day, both men and women produce more testosterone in pm workouts, which is good for strength and muscle gain
  • • Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and, depending on our jobs, the end of the working day tends to involve more pent up stress than at any other time so a post-work training can be the ideal way to let off steam, rather than taking your frustrations home!
  • • The fact that you may have gotten into a fairly sedentary evening routine since lockdown means that swapping a night in front of the TV for an hour or so of burning calories and feeling good about yourself could be just what you need to break a relatively unhealthy routine

Now you know the respective benefits of both am and pm training programmes, why not make your decision to start with whichever time you think will suit you best– or contact me for some valuable 1-2-1 advice if you are still torn between the options!