Is There a Best Time of Day to Exercise?
Is there a best time of the day to exercise? Perhaps. But the more important question is there a best time of the day for YOU to exercise? There is some research to suggest that exercising at certain times of the day is more beneficial than others, but even that can vary from person to person.
You generally want to exercise when you are alert and motivated to exercise. Some people are pretty alert first thing in the AM and others don’t feel alert until mid-afternoon.
Also, what time of the day you exercise depends on your goals behind the exercise. Other factors that influence the timing of exercise include what time of day is your motivation is high and the time of day when you have enough time to complete a really sound workout. So the answer to the question “is there a best time of day to exercise” really comes down to when it is best for you.
Eating and Exercise
If your goal is to lose weight there is some evidence that doing aerobic or cardiovascular exercises in the morning BEFORE YOU EAT will enable you to burn more calories from your fat stores
Thus, to better understand the best time to exercise it helps to understand about the timing of meals relative to exercise as well.
Aerobic exercise burns more calories from fat stores while strength and high intensity interval training burn more calories from muscle glycogen stores. Glycogen is a storage form of carbohydrates.
In reality you burn some calories from both fats and glycogen stores but as the intensity of the exercise increases the more calories are burned from glycogen stores and the lower the intensity the more calories are burned from fat stores. Aerobic exercises are performed at lower intensities than strength training and high intensity interval training.
Muscle glycogen stores are relatively depleted after a fast including the fast occurring during sleep. So if you do aerobics in the morning prior to eating you will burn more fat calories.
On the other hand, you want to perform strength training and high intensity interval training when your muscle glycogen stores are tanked up. And, that occurs after a meal that includes carbohydrates. So you either have to adjust your workouts to your meals, or adjust your meals to your workouts regardless of the time of day.
Either way you generally will want to wait 45 to 60 minutes after eating before engaging in strength training and high intensity interval training in order to maximize your workouts by maximizing your muscle glycogen stores.
Exercising at night is the worse time of the day to exercise as it many times interferes with sleep. And, sleep is when the body is repaired, replenished, and restored. The one exception would be for those that do shift work and are relatively wide awake during those evening hours.
Purpose of Exercise
The purpose of exercise is to produce physiologic changes in the body that improve the overall function of the body. To maximize those physiologic changes the body should be well nourished for the activity, be warmed up so that exercise can be optimally performed, the mind should be alert, the motivation to exercise should be there, and there should be enough time to complete your workout without worrying about other obligations.
When all of that comes together for you is the best time of the day for you to exercise.