Published By: Ishani Karmakar

When’s the Best Time to Work Out? Here’s What the Research Says

Deciding the best time to work out can be as perplexing as choosing the right diet plan.

 While some early birds hit the gym at dawn, night owls may not get moving until well after sunset. Is one time better than another for optimizing your workout? Let’s dive into the research to uncover the facts.

Morning Workouts – Pros and Cons

Consistency is Key

Morning workouts have a secret advantage – consistency. Studies indicate that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to stick to their routines. This consistency stems from fewer scheduling conflicts and social obligations in the early hours. After all, how often do you have a meeting or dinner plans at 6 AM?

Pain Management and Sleep Benefits

Morning exercisers may experience less bodily pain compared to those who work out in the evening, according to one study. This could be beneficial for those managing chronic pain through exercise. Moreover, morning exercise has been linked to better sleep quality. A study found that individuals who exercised in the morning had fewer night-time awakenings and more efficient sleep compared to those who exercised in the evening.

Appetite Control and Fat Burning

Exercising in the morning might also help in appetite control. Research shows that women who worked out in the morning consumed fewer calories throughout the day. Furthermore, working out on an empty stomach, easier to do in the morning, may lead to more significant fat burning.

Afternoon and Evening Workouts – A Different Set of Advantages

Peak Performance

Contrary to the morning routine, studies have found that physical performance tends to peak in the late afternoon and evening. This includes better performance in high-intensity exercises like sprinting, jumping, and resistance training. The body's temperature, naturally higher in the evening, prepares the muscles for optimal performance.

Muscle Gains and Testosterone Levels

Evening workouts may also be more effective for muscle building. A study revealed that people exercising in the evening gained more muscle mass compared to morning exercisers. This could be partly due to higher testosterone levels in the body during late afternoon workouts, crucial for muscle growth and strength.

Motivation Matters

Motivation can be a significant barrier to regular exercise. Interestingly, one study suggests that sticking to a prolonged training program is more challenging in the morning. Therefore, if motivation is your biggest hurdle, evening workouts might be more sustainable in the long run.

Personal Preference and Chronotype

Your chronotype, whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, plays a significant role in determining the best workout time for you. If you’re naturally more active and alert in the morning, that’s probably the best time for your workout. Conversely, if you find your energy peaks in the evening, that's likely your optimal workout time.

Adapting to Your Schedule

Your body is remarkably adaptable. If you consistently work out at a specific time, your body will adjust, potentially enhancing your performance at that time. This adaptation is akin to how your body adjusts to regular sleep patterns, influencing your circadian rhythm.

Ultimately, the best time to work out is the time that fits your schedule and feels right for your body. Consistency is more important than timing. If mornings work best for you, warm up properly to shake off the stiffness from sleep. If evenings are your preferred time, treat your workout sessions as unbreakable appointments.

Regardless of when you choose to exercise, the key is to maintain a consistent, realistic workout schedule. Whether it’s dawn, midday, or dusk, the most important thing is that you’re moving your body and reaping the benefits of regular exercise.