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The Best Time to Workout

The Best Time to Workout

Bryan Milliard

Fitness Quest 10 Intern

The best time to workout every day is 5:00 am…  I’m totally kidding.  The question of “when is the best time to workout?,” has popped up more times than a person would think.  To be honest, there is no right answer.  It all depends on what type of person is asking the question.  Little evidence shows that working out early in the morning causes you to burn more calories throughout the day.  However, there are things you should consider to determine what time of the day you should choose to workout.

Early Birds

If you’re an early bird, you’re considered by most to be a “morning person”.  These people tend to rise and shine with the sun, and are productive before most people’s alarms have the chance to go off.  Some people love their morning caffeine kick, and others love to get their heart rate up with a morning jog or strength training session.

There are benefits to being an early bird.  There’s nothing wrong with waking up to a hot cup of coffee, but imagine how much money you could save by driving to the gym instead of your local Starbucks.  You get the same benefit of preparing for the day with much less damage to your wallet.

Another advantage to waking up early, is that you’re getting your workout done before you start your day.  An all too common excuse for not being physically active every day, is that people “Don’t have enough time during the day”.  One solution to this problem is going to bed and waking up one hour earlier to get your workout in.  This permits your mind and body to be focused on the challenges of life the rest of the day.  Exercise often helps a person to handle stressors much more effectively as well.

If you wake up every morning and take about a half hour to completely pry your eyelids open, then a morning workout may not be the thing for you.  Your effort during your workout will not be at the same level as an early bird’s.  One way to tell if you’re not a morning person, is count the number of times you slam your hand on the snooze button every morning.

Stress Relievers

If you’re a stress reliever, you’re a person who sees exercise as an opportunity to take a break in the day to release some frustration from the daily grind.  The benefits to being this type of person, is in the title itself.  Exercise can be a very effective way to release stress that has built up from work, family, etc..  Exercise essentially burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress.  Frustration can help you to maximize your effort and even the benefits that come from an intense workout.  Endorphins in the brain are released, and you feel better than you did before you slipped on your gym shorts and shoes.

One reason to not be a ‘stress relief’ exerciser is if your days tend to become hectic and time consuming.  A person’s workout usually ends up being placed on the back burner due to the fact that there is not enough time or energy throughout the day (because of other activities).  This increases the chances of you missing your workout completely.

In general, the most important factor that determines when you work out is the time that will allow you to be consistent day in and day out.  Choose a time that seems to work best for you every day.  If your not sure what time works best, then do a test run.  Work out in the morning for a couple of weeks, in the afternoon for another couple of weeks, and finally at night.  Keep in mind which times you tend to have the most energy at and which times are usually free in your schedule.

A couple of side notes to consider:  Try not to workout directly after a meal.  The blood in your system travels to your stomach to help with digestion, which leaves little blood flow for muscle activity during a workout.  Avoid working out directly before bedtime.  Exercising increases your heart rate and alertness which can inhibit your chance of falling asleep quickly and sleeping peacefully.

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