The benefits of exercise can’t be overstated. Whether you’re working out to lose weight, get fit, reduce stress, or just because it feels good, exercise has something to offer everyone. So, what time of the day is best for a workout?
To be honest, there’s no clear-cut single answer. Whether you should work out in the morning, afternoon, or evening entirely depends on what you’re hoping to get out of your exercise, and how much flexibility you have in your schedule. We’ve outlined the pros of each time of day so you can make the best decision based on your individual goals and lifestyle.
Why work out in the morning?
One of the biggest benefits of working out in the morning is consistency. Think about all the little things that interfere with your schedule over the course of one day. You get a last-minute assignment dropped on you at work. Your friend wants to come over. There’s terrible traffic on your commute home — and that’s just the start! Working out before the day begins is a great way to stick to a consistent exercise schedule.
A 2010 study found that exercising before you have breakfast can burn more fat because the body needs to burn its stored reserves for energy rather than depending on the carbs you get from food. Since you’re committing to starting your morning healthy, you can pair your workout with a good, filling breakfast that will set you on the right path for the rest of the day.
What’s more, since you know you need to get up a little earlier in the morning for a workout, you might be more likely to go to bed earlier — and catching zzz’s is key to living a healthy lifestyle.
Why work out in the afternoon?
The afternoon is an interesting time to work out, and for many of us, it’s slightly impractical — not all of us work in a place where we can duck out for an hour to squeeze in a good exercise and a shower. But for those who can, an afternoon workout has many benefits.
Most of us tend to experience a dip in energy and activity around lunch, so a quick workout can be an excellent way to power through and stay productive for the afternoon’s work. Your body’s core temperature is also higher during the afternoon than the rest of the day, which means you can do high-intensity workouts with less risk of injuring your muscles and joints.
You can also grab a coworker for bonus accountability. By getting a workout buddy, you can both help push each other and make sure you stick to your lunchtime exercise routine.
Why work out in the evening?
If you can’t get to the gym until after work, don’t worry — there are plenty of benefits to an evening workout, too. Your muscle performance and strength tend to be weakest in the morning and gradually increase over the day, so you’ll be able to lift more weight and reach higher levels of performance in weight training when you work out in the evening.
Even if you’re not weight training, an evening workout can help reduce stress. Even something as short as a 20-minute workout gives us the endorphin boost we need to cope with and unwind from the stress of the modern workday. There may be benefits for weight loss, too: A 2010 study in the “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness” found that postmenopausal women who took a walk in the evening benefited more in terms of weight and fat loss than women who walked in the morning.
Working out in the evening can make it easier to flop into bed for a good night’s sleep, and you’ll be hungrier in the morning, which is a good thing: Eating a high-protein breakfast can suppress your appetite and reduce snacking during the rest of the day.
As you can see, there can be great benefits to working out at various times of the day, but the most important thing is that you work out at all. In other words, pick a time that works for you and stick with it!
Svelte is a perfect post-workout snack that’s high in protein and low in calories and sugars. It keeps your metabolism going, and it’s delicious, too. Join the community on our Pinterest page, and get inspired to start living healthy!