Sometimes it can seem like the fitness world is divided into two opposing camps: those of you who like to jump straight out of bed and into your running shoes, and those of you who would sooner contemplate accompanying the next space mission to Mars than move more muscle than strictly necessary until achieving a certain critical mass in caffeine consumption.
Despite this difference, the real question is: is it better to work out in the morning or in the evening?
Proponents of early morning exercise will say it gets them set up for the day. It’s certainly true that if you can make time for exercise before anything else, you may find it easier to stick to the routine, as during the course of the day there are plenty of opportunities for something to get in the way of doing it later on. Starting the day healthy sets you up to make healthier choices throughout the day too, put simply – it’s motivational. Another health benefit attributed to morning exercise is that is has a greater lowering effect on your blood pressure. This may be because our bodies experience waking up as a kind of stress and in fact blood pressure can actually peak at this time of day, such that the effect of exercising on blood pressure is more noticeable at this time.
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Wait! Before you set the alarm to go off half an hour earlier… Like so much in life, it’s just not that clear cut – sorry. Muscles are tight and your body can feel stiff first thing in the morning. Exercising later in the day means you’ve had a chance to warm up naturally and are less likely to incur damage. In this way, an evening workout may mean better performance.
The best time to work out is the one you will stick to
Fundamentally, if you’re a night owl, no amount of argument is going to make morning exercise feel right for your body. And the reverse is also true – larks are not going to be able to commit to a workout routine if it comes at a time that their body clock is just curling up and heading off to the land of Zzzzz. The theoretical benefits of working out in the morning or the night are academic compared to the very real benefits of working out. Period.
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