Whether you’re a major athlete or you’re just starting to adjust to a new fitness routine, we’ve all wondered this at some point. You’re probably asking if a morning workout is better for your health than exercising at night.
It’s normal to wonder these things because you want the best results for yourself, and time of day correlates with energy levels, diet, consistency and motivation. While there is no overall right answer, there is a right answer for you and your life. Let’s dive a little into the benefits and setbacks of both so you can determine which option is best for you.
So, When’s the Best Time of Day to Work Out?
FOR THE EARLY BIRDS
YOU GET IT OUT OF THE WAY
Let’s face it–we aren’t all stoked to hop on a treadmill, let alone have the energy for it when it’s the end of a long work day, and for many people, their to-do lists are not completely checked off yet when the sun goes down. People still have dinner to cook and kids to take care of among many other things. Some people would also rather have the option of partaking in happy hour with friends or to just be able to spend time with family. If these things sound familiar to you, then it’s probably best for you to exercise in the morning, and plus it feels good knowing that your workout is done, and you don’t have to worry about it when it’s the end of the day.
GREAT FOR WEIGHT LOSS
You know the old tale that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it sets you up for success? This is the same concept that applies to early birds who get up and get moving. Elite Daily says that your metabolism is actually faster in the morning, which helps burn more calories throughout the day.
Women who do 45-minute workouts early in the morning are more likely to eat less for breakfast and make healthier food choices throughout the day. This is because many have the mentality that they don’t want to “ruin” their good workout with a poor meal, which in the grand scheme, results in more weight loss.
Yet another reason to get on that grind early in the morning. You have a higher chance of keeping yourself in check when you’re fresh out of bed and have the whole day ahead of you rather than waiting until the end of the day to work out when motivation likely fades for most people. Consistency is key for any fitness journey, especially weight loss, but is also where most people fall short and when progress gets stagnant. Exercising early in the morning can help with setting up your day and providing you with more structure.
MOTIVATES YOU THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Some people would argue that working out early in the morning does the opposite because starting your day with vigorous activity can only make you more tired right? Think of an early morning workout as a cup of coffee. According to Elite Daily and Men’s Health, not only does it trigger a healthier diet, but because of the release of endorphins, most people actually end up feeling more energized throughout the day, have better concentration and are more productive.
If you work out while the sun is out, then your body is more likely to power down easier come nighttime, according to Elite Daily. A study conducted at Appalachian State University also found that morning exercise lowers blood pressure, which triggers better sleep.
FOR THE NIGHT OWLS
HEALTHY WAY TO UNWIND FROM THE DAY
Exercise is known to be one of the most effective stress-relievers, especially for people who have stressful jobs or who work in an office setting and don’t get much activity during the day. Even people who are on their feet all day can still benefit from evening workouts because stress is a mental game.
It’s also very common to turn to the couch and indulge in guilty pleasures as outlets for relaxation, but for anyone, especially those trying to achieve long-term fitness goals, our guilty pleasures are what set us back and cause stress in the long run. Exercising at night may be just the thing you need to unwind, and it replaces those common routines we are used to turning to with something much healthier.
Just like how it feels good to start our day off healthy with a morning workout, it’s also good to end the day on a healthy note too. By exercising at night, you’re more likely to eat a healthier dinner post-workout rather than junk food because your body needs the nutrients.
ALSO HELPS WITH SLEEP QUALITY
While experts might say exercising at night raises your body temperature and disrupts your sleep, that is actually a myth. According to Men’s Health and the same study conducted by Appalachian State University, evening workouts are equivalent to giving yourself a warm bath, which promotes relaxation and better sleep.
YOU COULD HAVE MORE EFFECTIVE WORKOUTS
Elite Daily and PopSugar both say that evening workouts not only give you better endurance, but you can gain more muscle if you exercise at night as opposed to the morning. In the evening, your lungs are at peak efficiency and testosterone in both men and women are at higher levels, making nighttime, a prime time for weightlifting, muscle growth and faster results.
MORE RELAXED MORNINGS
Some people just aren’t morning people, so that’s why night workouts can be their best friend. Regardless if you pack your gym bag and fill your water bottle the night before, you have more freedom to enjoy your morning as opposed to rushing to the gym at the crack of dawn. You can sleep in longer, you don’t have to worry about being somewhere at a certain time before you have to be to work, and you can take your time in the shower compared to a quick rinse at the gym.
YOU’RE MORE WARMED UP LATER IN THE DAY
Although a morning workout after a night of restful sleep is also good for your body, Elite Daily says we also naturally have more energy between 2 and 6 p.m. because of higher testosterone levels. Our muscles are also 20 percent more flexible from daily movement, which can prevent workout injuries. Also, if you ate nutrient-rich foods all day, then you have fueled your body and will likely respond better to an intense evening workout.
There are benefits to both early morning and evening exercise, and what’s “better” doesn’t necessarily come down to the numbers and facts. What truly counts is always finding time to work out, whenever possible and sticking to the routine that best fits your life. When it comes down to it, a workout no matter what time of day, is better than no physical activity at all. The “best time” is on your clock.