by Laura Seldon
When it comes to working out, timing is everything. In fact, health experts say choosing between a 6am boot camp session and a 7pm spin class can make a huge difference for your fitness goals.
So, when is the best time of the day to work out? That’s where things get complicated. Just as your weight fluctuates, so do opinions on the best time of the day to exercise. Check out the breakdown below to help work out when you should be working out.
Morning Workout Pros:
Making a morning workout a part of your routine is the best way to ensure you get the job done. By exercising in the morning, you’re less likely to find an excuse to skip out on the task because you won’t have all day to think up an excuse. Plus, working out after waking up means you haven’t exhausted yourself yet with other activities throughout the day.
“Because you are fresh from the night before, you are full of energy,” says Valerie Orsoni, CEO of LeBootCamp. “And you are most likely going to stretch your physical limits, hereby getting better and faster results!”
Morning Workout Cons:
Orsoni also notes that because your body is "fresh" from sleep, you can injure yourself more easily if you start a strenuous activity in the morning without warming up. If you want to work out in the morning, make sure to give yourself a good warm up before getting going.
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12pm – 5pm Workout Pros:
Get those abs out of hibernation by squeezing in a workout around noon and then heading off to lunch. Orsoni tells her clients that even just a half hour walk, pre-mealtime, can lessen the ill effects of a high-fat diet.
“Do it like the French and squeeze in 30 minutes of walking on an empty stomach every day,” says Orsoni. “Walking on empty draws energy from the body's sugar stores, thus burning fat from targeted trouble zones and accentuating your assets!”
12pm – 5pm Workout Cons:
If you have a hectic lifestyle or a demanding job, it may be difficult to follow a schedule that only allows you to exercise in the afternoon. Plus, if you wait to exercise until after you’ve eaten lunch, you may be at risk for exercising while in a “food coma.”
“If you plan on exercising right after your lunch, you might find yourself too sluggish to push yourself beyond your limits,” says Orsoni.
Nighttime Workout Pros:
Saving your workout for the end of the day is a great way to blow off steam after a long day at work. Another reason to work out at night? Many experts say this is when your body is most likely to reach optimal performance.
Lesley Alderman, author of The Book of Times, says the best time of night to work out is between 6pm and 8pm because that is when your body temperature is at its peak, meaning your muscles are more flexible. Alderman also notes that muscle strength peaks between 5 pm and 9 pm (this is apparently the best time to do all your heavy lifting as well)!
Nighttime Workout Cons:
One of the biggest cons for an evening workout is that it can be hard to make it a part of your routine. Just like trying to fit in a workout during the lunch hour, it can be tough to get yourself on that treadmill after a long day at the office.
Also, working out at night is not suggested for light sleepers!
“Raising your heart rate in the evening will definitively prevent you from easily falling asleep,” says Orsoni.
The ultimate downside of an evening workout? You may be too tired to make it count.
“Because you are tired out by your day, you might not be able to push yourself as much as you could have in the morning,” says Orsoni.
No matter what you decide, by simply making a choice, scheduling a consistent time to work out, and following through, you’ll be that much closer to achieving your fitness goals.
What time of day do you usually exercise?
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Laura Seldon is a writer and journalist living in Los Angeles. She has written for Guess Inc., Spark Networks, and Rock The Vote. Regretfully, she is also a morning person who refuses to admit it and rebels with a 7pm workout.