Is It Better To Work Out In The Morning Or The Evening?
This post comes from one of the most curious things I learned in the short time I’ve been working out. The lesson is not all exercise is created equal. Here, I’m not talking about the different types of exercises like aerobic, resistance, plyometic or ballistic. We all know that cardio is different from weight training and all the other types of exercises.
What I’m focusing on in this article is that picking the time of day to workout actually affects how our bodies respond and what results we get. In short, is it better to work out in the morning or in the evening?
Now this isn’t going to be something that everyone can do since we all have different schedules. Some people have no time whatsoever in the morning because they need to get up prepare for work and also get the kids ready then take them to school. Others meanwhile, will be spent from work by the time they get home, plus help kids with homework and prepare dinner.
But if you do have a choice or you’re curious as to which time of the day, whether morning or evening to exercise would be better which would it be? Here are some very interesting facts I learned.
What’s the Best Time to Exercise, Morning or Evening?
As much as I’d like to give you a definite answer, I can’t. That’s because they both have their own selling points. The reason for this is because of the changes in our bodies. Just think of us getting up in the morning and feeling tighter and less stretched out than we would by the end of the day.
This doesn’t only affect our physical features but our body’s internal clock also affects the different biochemical reactions inside so the balance changes between morning and evening.
So I thought a better approach would be to make the case for both working out in the morning and the evening. Each have their benefits and depending what your main exercise goals are that’s the one that will be a better choice for you. That is, if you can move the schedule to accommodate it.
A Case for Working Out in the Morning
Here are a few points that make the case for exercise in the mornings.
1. Those who exercised in the mornings got better sleep at night
Researchers from Appalachian State University ran a study where participants were put into 3 groups. One group was made to exercise at 7 a.m., another group at 1 p.m. in the afternoon and a third group at 7 p.m. in the evenings.
Of the three groups, the group that exercised regularly at 7:00 in the morning experienced not only deeper but also longer sleep cycles. This allowed them to get more out of the recuperative and regenerative effects of sleep.
2. People who exercise in the morning achieve a bigger decrease in blood pressure
In the same study, the participants were also had their blood pressure levels monitored. All groups were given the same exercise routine and made to workout thrice a week.
Of the 3 groups, the group that worked out in the mornings showed the biggest improvement in blood pressure levels. Their average blood pressure readings dropped by 10% in the morning while showing a bigger 25% drop when the evenings came. The improvement was significantly better than those who exercised in the evenings.
While we commonly see exercise as way to lower or regulate blood pressure, I was quite surprised to learn that those who worked out in the middle of the day (1:00 p.m.) showed little to no benefit for their blood pressure levels.
3. Morning workouts are better if you’re trying to lose weight
The one last case for doing morning workouts is that it is better for those who are trying to lose weight. Studies have shown that those who worked out tend to be more consistent with their routines if they did it just after getting up.
Working out in the morning also makes our body conscious of our health goals making us choose healthier breakfast choices. It has also been shown that those who exercised during the morning are less likely to overeat during breakfast.
Together, along with being more energized throughout the day help us lose more weight with a morning routine.
A Case for Working Out in the Evening
Just as there are points that tell us mornings are a great time for exercise, there are also some benefits of choosing late afternoon and nights to do so.
1. Late afternoon or evening workouts yield better performance
Studies comparing people who worked out in the morning and evenings showed that those who did in the evenings performed better. This meant they were faster, could lift more weight and achieve better scores.
This has to do with higher levels of testosterone during the mid to late afternoons to early evening. It is also the time when our body’s core temperature is higher which allows us to perform better.
So if your goal is to get stronger or train to be faster then choosing a late afternoon to evening workout beats one done in the morning.
2. Lower rate of injuries when working out at night
One not so surprising result showed by research is that injuries tend to occur more during morning workouts compared to those later in the day. One reason is that our bodies are still ‘cold’ specially right after waking up. And many individuals skip their warm up exercises and go straight to the main routine which can result in a higher possibility of injury.
One way to prevent this is to properly take the time to warm up before each exercise session. And this does not mean stretching, but getting the body warmed up like when we do brisk walking or jumping jacks.
3. You are able to perform more complex movements better
Our bodies are more flexibility and perform better in the evenings which means that if we plan to do more complex types of training we are better suited to do so. Our increased flexibility, along with the lower possibility of injury during the evenings makes working out in the late afternoon and night better if you’re doing more complex exercises or workouts like CrossFit or cross training.
What’s Your Goal?
So from the looks of things, it really boils down to what time of the day you can fit your workouts into and also your exercise goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, then working out in the mornings is a better option. The same is true if you want to get better improvements in blood pressure and sleep.
If you’re goal on the other hand is to perform better, get stronger and compete, then leaving the workouts to the latter part of the day seems to be the more effective thing to do.
In the end, the most important thing is still to get the workout sessions in. This means consistency trumps all the other things. If you aren’t able to get to the gym or consistently follow through on your exercise program then choosing between night and day isn’t going to really matter.
I was quite interesting to me to find out that there was quite a discrepancy between the two. I used to think that a lot of it would be mental focus and clarity since our brains can be either very clear or still sleepy in the morning, depending on what type of person you are. And it can also be very alert or tired by the time evening comes.
But the time changes really affect the body so it is something we can take advantage if you do have the option of working out in the mornings or at night.