What's the Best Time to Exercise?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question! Some people swear by an early morning jog to get their hearts racing and get them psyched up for the day. Others wouldn't dream of putting on their runners before lunchtime, preferring a walk in the countryside after dinner. But is any one time of day the best time to exercise?
The truth is that there's no reliable evidence to suggest that calories are burned more efficiently at certain times of day. But the time of day can influence how you feel when exercising.
The most important thing is to choose a time of day you can stick with, so that exercise becomes a habit.
Your Body Clock
Your body's circadian rhythm determines whether you're a night owl or an early bird, and there's not much you can do to alter it.
Circadian rhythm is governed by the 24-hour pattern of the earth’s rotation. These rhythms influence body functions such as blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels, and heart rate, all of which play a role in your body's readiness for exercise.
Using your body clock as a guide to when to go for a walk or hit the gym might seem like a good idea. But, of course, there are other important considerations, such as family and work schedules, or a friend's availability to walk with you.
The Perks of Morning Exercise
If you have trouble with consistency, morning may be your best time to exercise, experts say.
Research suggests that in terms of performing a consistent exercise habit, individuals who exercise in the morning tend to do better.
The thinking is that they get their exercise in before other time pressures interfere - no matter how well-intentioned some people are, if they don't exercise in the morning, other things will squeeze it out.
It’s important to note that if you exercise in the morning, your body temperature is lower, so you should allow more time to warm up than you would later in the day.
When Insomnia Interferes
Unfortunately, hitting the snooze button repeatedly isn't exercise. But, if you've had a bad night’s sleep the night before, it can seem a lot more appealing than jumping out of bed and hitting the treadmill.
Good, regular bedtime habits can help you beat insomnia. They include winding down before bedtime.
Exercising or eating too late can sabotage your body's urge to sleep. Both exercise and eating raise your heart rate and temperature which might keep you awake.
For some people, lunchtime is the best time to exercise, especially if colleagues keep you company. Just be sure to eat after you work out, not before.
Finding Your Own Best Time to Exercise
You don't have to be an expert on circadian rhythms to determine the best time to exercise. Try different times of the day and you’ll soon find out what works best for you.
Work out in the morning for a few weeks, then try noon, then early evening. Which do you enjoy most and which makes you feel best afterward? Also, consider the type of exercise, and other daily commitments.
Most important of all, find a time that helps you make your exercise a regular, consistent part of your life. This is more important than the time of day.
Establishing the Exercise Habit
One day, you'll reach a point where daily exercise comes as naturally as breathing. At that point, you may want variety. Keeping it fresh makes it more enjoyable and more likely to be continued.
But if you're still at the point where exercise is hit or miss, pencilling it in for the same time each day will help you make it a habit. Whether you choose morning, lunchtime, or after work to exercise, make it part of your routine. Starting out can be as simple as changing the route you come home from work so that you drive by a gym or exercise class. Get into the habit of going that way, and keep a bag of exercise gear in your car or at work, so you are ready to exercise anytime, anywhere!
What time of day do you exercise? Tell us about it now in the Unislim forum!