It’s the debate that refuses to be settled: should we be working out in the morning or the evening?
For most people, working out before or after work is most convenient, and depending on your lifestyle, either can suit. But which one is the best?
Since just finding freetime toworkout can be a struggle, we’re determined to get to the bottom of this discussion so you can reap every fitness reward, no sweat.
BUT FIRST, WHY EXERCISE?
Before we delve into the science, it’s important to acknowledge that no matter what time of day, or how long or strenuous, every little bit of exercise counts.
While there is a difference between an all-out HIIT workout and a quick walk around the block, we’re looking at the research. What the research tells us is that just 10 minutes of exercise per day can help people of all ages to improve strength, fitness and cellular metabolism.
Not to mention the benefits this can have for stress levels, mental health and productivity.
However, when it comes to the best time of day, experts are unresolved. Morning exercisers were once thought to be the ones on top, but now there’s a growing body of evidence to support evening exercise.
The truth is, the best time to exercise is whatever time you’re most motivated and available to do so.
After all, the most important thing is consistency. And consistency comes with diligence, diligence comes with motivation.
Nonetheless, we’ve gathered pros and cons for both workout times, to help you figure out what might work best for you.
FOR THE EARLY RISERS
Early risers have long been associated with productivity, health and fitness. “The early bird gets the worm”, after all.
And there is proof in the pudding.
Morning workouts – especially when working out on an empty stomach, are the most effective for weight-loss. This is because in the early morning hours our hormonal composition most supports burning fat.
According to Anthony Hackney, professor in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, our bodies have naturally high cortisol levels in the morning, which causes the body to draw energy from fat reserves for fuel.
Studies have also found that morning exercisers experience a smaller appetite throughout the day, an added benefit for those with weight-loss in mind.
Weight-loss aside, morning workouts also do wonders for mood, stress and mental health. Since exercise is a proven form for reducing stress, completing your exercise hit at the beginning of the day can result in better mental function and mood all day long.
Sounds good…But what if I’m not a morning person???
While early rising seems to be dripping in health and fitness benefits, it’s important not to force it upon yourself.
There’s nothing worse than dragging yourself out of bed at 6am to complete a half-hearted workout that’s left you feeling like you should’ve stayed in bed…(don’t we know the feeling…).
FOR THE NIGHT OWLS
Night owls, don’t worry – we got you!
While night-time exercise has been routinely criticised for interfering with sleep, there’s convincing evidence that this is not the case.
Hackney says as long as we’re not going from workout, to shower to bed in one fell swoop, we should be safe – phew!
In fact, Swiss researchers found that a high-intensity workout performed 1½ hours before bed could help you fall asleep faster, improve your mood and result in fewer wake-ups during the night.
While morning workouts are best for weight-loss, nighttime workouts can be seen as best for performance.
This is because by nighttime you’ve already enjoyed your breakfast, lunch and a few snacks, with plenty of glucose hanging around in your blood. And since blood glucose is necessary for high intensity workouts, this is the perfect time to push yourself at the gym!
THE GENERAL CONSENSUS
So…morning or night?
Take your pick! As it goes, the best workout time is whatever works best for you.