When you’re trying to get back into a regular exercise routine (or trying to start one for the first time), finding time in your day to work out can be challenging. Waking up early might mean sacrificing needed sleep, and waiting until later in the day makes it more likely that competing obligations will get in the way of your plans to hit the gym. When really is the best time to exercise?
While there can be benefits to both, exercising in the morning may be best.
Exercising bright and early provides a natural energy boost—a great benefit if you find yourself relying heavily on caffeine to get your day going. It can also boost your mood as well as your productivity throughout the day.
Waking up early to work out can actually help shift your body clock so you become naturally more alert earlier in the day and go to sleep more easily at night. So, once you establish a routine, waking up early to work out won’t have to mean losing precious sleep time. Exercising early in the morning can also help you stick with your fitness routine, which is necessary in order to see a substantial benefit.
If weight loss is one of your primary fitness goals, beginning your day in a healthy way sets you up to make healthier choices, like what to eat for lunch, as the day continues. Exercising on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is also a fantastic way to burn stored fat as well as speed up your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day.
If you really aren’t a morning person, work out whenever it suits you best.
Afternoons can be just as good for your physical and mental health, particularly if you are focusing on improving your performance rather than losing weight or just getting the workout done and out of the way. After having eaten during the day, you’ll have the energy for a more intense workout.
If you choose to work out later in the day, notice how an afternoon or evening workout affects your sleeping patterns. Since exercise is a natural stimulant, this could make it harder to fall asleep as early as you might like or delay the deeper phases of sleep. If you notice difficulty falling asleep or feeling drowsy in the morning, you might consider shifting your workout to earlier in the day.
The most important thing about working out is to do it; there is no bad time to exercise. Prioritize being as consistent as possible. Consistency is easiest when you choose activities that you enjoy and set up a routine that fits your body and fitness goals.