When is the best time to work out? If you already exercise regularly – with a personal trainer, or on your own – you have probably already determined the best time to work out. By balancing your schedule and your energy levels at various times throughout the day, you can pick the best time to work out based on how your body feels and what your schedule allows.
On the other hand, if you’re new to exercise, you’ll probably want to experiment with working out at various times of the day to see when your body feels best. Here are some tips to find the best time:
When is the best time to work out?
If your exercise program is wearing you out instead of pumping you up, you may consider changing the time of day when you work out. Scientists are studying our bodies’ internal clocks, and how to determine the best time to work out based on hormones and circadian rhythms:
(Circadian rhythms are the daily physiological cycles that the human body follows. These rhythms regulate everything from body temperature and metabolism to blood pressure. The rhythms result from the firing rate of your brain’s neurons. They conform to the 24-hour light/dark cycle).
Your body temperature is one of the cycles that exerts the most control over the quality of your workout. When body temperature is at its highest, your workouts will likely be more productive. When your temperature is low, chances are your energy levels may be less than optimal.
Most people’s body temperature is highest in the late afternoon. Exercise research has consistently shown that working out during these afternoon hours produces better physical performance and more muscular power. When your temperature is high, your muscles are warm and more flexible, your reaction time is quicker, and your strength is at its peak.
How To Find Your Circadian Peak
To determine your own circadian peak in body temperature, record your temperature every few hours for five consecutive days. Body temperature usually fluctuates by plus or minus 1.5 degrees throughout the day. If you are an earlybird or a night owl, you may notice that your temperature peaks one or two hours before or after the typical average (between 4:00 and 6:00 pm.).
Your best workout time
First of all, don’t fix something that isn’t broken. Don’t change your schedule if you feel good starting your day with a workout. Everyone agrees that exercise at any time is better than no exercise at all. In fact, people who exercise in the mornings are more successful at making it a habit. It’s too easy to find other things to do later in the day, and sometimes motivation wanes as your work day comes to a close!
With regards to the best time to exercise, the research is really all over the map. This is probably because exercise research looks at a wide variety of benefits — stress management, weight loss, muscle gain, sleep patterns, disease prevention, etc. For example, for weight loss there is evidence that supports morning exercise being best, whereas some research shows that afternoon workouts are best for building muscle. It’s hard to pin down a specific time that is ‘best’ — you really need to experiment and find out what works best for you.
Reasons to work out later in the day
If stress relief is your goal, exercise always works. In fact, regular exercise has been shown to be one of the most effective weapons against depression and stress!
Some people have an afternoon slump due to high stress or poor nutrition. A good workout can be an excellent way to boost your energy when you need it most.
Your takeaways for the best time to work out
- Any time is better than not working out! If your schedule only allows working out at one particular time of day, do that.
- If you have the option of deciding when you’ll work out, experiment with workouts at different times of day. Exercise at the same time each day for at least a week, and pay attention to how you feel – both mentally and physically – and to how well you sleep.
- If you want to get fancy in picking the best time to work out, find your energetic and circadian peaks and schedule your workouts at the optimum times.
Exercise should feel good, boost your energy, and be enjoyable. If you’re working out an the appropriate intensity, and choosing a style of exercise that suits you, you should feel good regardless of what time of day you work out!
And if you need help putting together a solid workout plan for yourself, contact Basics and Beyond right now. We’ve got personal trainers standing by in Nashville, Antioch, and Franklin who are ready to help you become your best!