Even on the best days, it can be tough to fit in the exercise you need. This is true for those of us who work from home, as well as for people who don’t have regular work days to schedule around. The flipside of the new normal? We’ve been left with more options for when to exercise than ever before.
Late morning, early afternoon, or first-thing - when is the best time to fit in your workout? The answer depends on what you’re aiming for.
The best time for... performance:
Your body heats up over the course of the day as a result of your circadian rhythm (body clock), which makes afternoon exercise easier. Research has shown that we’re stronger, more flexible and have 20% more endurance in the afternoon and evening than in the morning. We also may produce more testosterone (key for building muscle) later in the day. The catch? Regularly exercising in the morning closes the performance gap, because our bodies learn to adjust. So while afternoon is naturally a better time to exercise for peak performance, if you’re regularly working out in the morning, the time difference doesn’t matter.
The best time for... for weight loss:
There’s an assumption that working out first-thing in the morning boosts weight loss, because you're burning your body’s stored energy instead of recently digested food. In fact, exercising after fasting only initially results in increased fat loss - if you do it regularly, there’s no difference in fat burn between working out in the morning and working out later in the day after eating. What does make a difference is consistency - studies have shown that those who work out in the morning are more likely to workout consistently over time, which results in greater weight loss.
The best time for... for making it a habit:
Many people find early morning is the easiest time to schedule regular workouts, since the day can fill up fast with other commitments, and we can lose energy and willpower as the day goes on. There’s also a big psychological benefit to tackling a workout first-thing. Exercising boosts your endorphins, energizes you for the day, and gives you a feeling of accomplishment before you’ve even eaten breakfast.
If you want to give the morning workout a try but you often feel hungry or low on energy when you wake-up, eat a small, nutrient-dense snack (like Rumble!) before bed.
Mornings may be where it’s at, but really - the science shows that the best time to exercise is the time that works best for you.