Is it better to exercise in the morning, the afternoon or the evening? Is there really any advantage to one time or the other?
Actually, there is. When choosing the perfect time to exercise, there is one time frame that consistently seems to produce best results, and that's mornings.
Here are some of the reasons why mornings are best:
- It gives you an energy boost. After a good night's sleep, your muscles are rested and rejuvenated (even if you still feel sleepy). They're more responsive to stretching, moving and training, especially weight and cardiovascular training. Working out in the morning will help you lift more weight and tone your muscles better.
- It helps your body burn fat more efficiently. That's because in the morning, the body isn't dealing with digesting food. The stomach is empty from the previous day's meals and will burn fat cells for energy right away. If you eat breakfast before you exercise, it still works out well. If you had a high-protein breakfast, the low amount of sugars from breakfast burn off quickly immediately followed by fat burning.
- A morning routine "jump starts" your metabolism. When you start the day by burning fat, you'll burn more calories all day long!
- Morning workouts energize! They pump blood, oxygen and healthy endorphins through your body. That alone sharpens your thinking, clears your mind, and put you in a good mood! And the effect can last up to ten hours after you exercise!
- It regulates your appetite. When your body has all the blood, oxygen and hormones it needs, your blood sugar level is more stable. You don't feel the urge to splurge so often and aren't tempted by junk food.
- It helps you stick to your schedule. With our hectic schedules, it's easy to skip exercising on especially busy days. But if you've already exercised in the morning, it's done and out of the way, and you feel great.
- It will free up your evenings. You won't feel chained to gym for 30 to 45 minutes of your evening. It's the only way to make sure you fit exercise into your schedule.
- It can also help you sleep better. Research shows that people who exercise regularly require less sleep and get a higher quality of sleep. Part of the reason is that your body functions better when you exercise, allowing you to sleep better. And when your body knows you're going to be active as soon as you awaken, your endocrine system and circadian rhythms adjust to sleeping deeper and waking up more alert.
- Most importantly, it will help you stick to your weight loss/fitness plan. Studies show that over 90% of people who exercise consistently, do it in the morning. If you exercise in the morning, the odds of success are definitely in yourfavor.
You may feel your mornings are hectic how can you possibly fit anything more in? One suggestion is to go to bed 30 minutes earlier, then wake up 30 minutes earlier for a workout.
But what if exercising in the morning is simply impossible to fit into your schedule?
Then it's better to do it whenever you can, rather than not at all. Here are some other options:
If you have a 2 hour lunch break, there's plenty of time to fit in a sport, workout, or training routine, followed by a shower and lunch. It would be hard to fit it into a 1 hour lunch. But you CAN fit a decent walk (or a game of tennis), and a sandwich into a 1 hour lunch.
If evenings are all you have, use them. If you love to socialize, going to a gym after work is a great way to exercise with friends. And that can help with motivation.
Exercising at night can burn excess fat and calories, but might disrupt your sleep if you work out vigorously. A serious workout or a high level of activity pumps up the adrenaline level in your body. If done within an hour or two before going to sleep, it can raise your body temperature. It also increases the blood flow through your veins, interfering with deep sleep. So evening workouts aren't recommended.
It's also very easy to skip exercising in the evening when you feel tired or too pressed for time. That can become self-defeating.
Be sure to exercise BEFORE your meal. Exercising after meals not only interferes with digestion, but it also raises levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood. A 1999 University of Missouri study found that exercising one hour prior to meals reduced blood fat levels by 40 percent.
In contrast, exercising after a meal resulted in only a 5 percent drop in fat levels. "Exercise stimulates fat-clearing enzymes," according to the study's author (Thomas et al., 1999).
Whenever you do it, find a time that works for you and STICK TO IT! Always remember that the key to losing weight and staying fit is EXERCISE.