Could you get better results from your workout simply by shifting schedules? Well, yes and no.
The benefits of exercise have to do with consistency. Different times in the day do influence your body, but the same workout will burn roughly the same number of calories and have the same effects and benefits. Doing the same workout repeatedly, consistently, will get you results, no matter when you do it.
But what we have to share with you today is good news for the person who feels compelled to set a schedule that feels off to them. The guy struggling with waking up for a 5am run, or the girl who is too worn out at 6pm to even think of walking to the gym. If this sounds like something you’re familiar with, you’re in luck: there’s no set rule that you have to work out in the morning, or evening, or whenever.
However, certain times of day can change the way you work out forever. Read on to find out how the differences affect you and your workout.
Your circadian rhythm and you
The time of day you exercise influences, and impacts the effectiveness, of your exercise regimen.
This matters because consistency is key to getting the most out of your fitness training, it’s important that you have positive reinforcement while you work out.
If you feel better after a workout and feel more positive about getting active, you are more likely to exercise consistently and more often.
How you react to a time of day is determined by your circadian rhythm. It’s something like an internal alarm clock that schedules when you feel sleepy, when your heart rate goes up naturally, and when you feel most alive.
Each person’s circadian rhythm is a little different, but it’s easy to figure out when your optimal workout schedule is based on your rhythm.
It’s pretty simple. If you’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as soon as you pop out of bed at 5am every day and can’t wait to start your to-do list, then you’re a morning person. You would probably do well to ignite all that enthusiasm with a quick, intense sweat session as soon as you can slip into something appropriate.
If you need several alarms and your mother to get you out the door then trying to squeeze in a workout between waking up and getting to work isn’t for you. It’ll probably make you a grouch anyway, and make you hate your mornings even more.
Chances are you’re livelier when the sun goes down, and that is the perfect time for you to get in some time at the gym along with the other night owls.
Basically, any time you can enjoy getting active, you should. That’s the only hard and fast rule when it comes to setting a time to work out.
That said, there are unique perks to different schedules. So let’s check these out, shall we?
Most people who choose a morning workout say they just like starting their day with an activity that sets the tone for the rest of the day.
The benefits of a morning workout include, but are not limited to, the following:
- An elevated mood that lasts for most of the day. Exercise releases endorphins, and to get your daily fix so early in the morning keeps you coasting all day long. Or at least until lunchtime.
- The increased probability of completing your workouts and a decreased probability of missing them. When you work out first thing in the morning, there are less distractions. You have not been burdened with a long day of work, you’re feeling optimistic, and you’re ready to take on the world.
- A spike in your metabolism. While the degree of the boost depends on your current fitness level plus the activity you engage in, morning workouts do your metabolic rate a favor and give it a nice kick. This allows you to keep burning calories long after you're settled in your nice comfy office chair, a phenomenon called Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC.
- Better sleep. People who indulge in intense activity before bedtime may be too riled up to sleep well. Waking up earlier may also encourage you to sleep earlier, and align your body clock to get the best possible rest.
- Better blood pressure. A study of morning workouts have found that middle aged people who exercised for as little as 30 minutes a day for three days a week experienced a 10% drop in blood pressure throughout the day. Some even experienced a 25% decrease by bedtime.
A word of caution, though. Morning workouts can be difficult at first, especially if you are not an early riser. But stay the course and you will soon see great results!
A lot of people claim that the only time they can find to work out is when their deadlines are met and they can finally relax until the alarm goes off the next day. For some, this can be really late, but many find that this is the perfect solution to the frantic rush hour.
Evening workout buffs can find that their advantages lie in these:
- Avoidance of carmageddon. The Philippines has been known to have some of the worst rush hours known to modern man. Wouldn’t you rather be doing something productive rather than being stuck in a stuffy vehicle for a few hours? Most office workers simply clock out and head to the gym rather than home to save themselves the stress and get fit in the process.
- Increased capacity for exercise. A study has discovered that in the evening, the human body has increased muscular capacity, which translates to being able to work out harder for longer. That means more burpees and maybe abs that appear a little bit faster!
- Improved muscle mass. The body produces testosterone in the evening, which is an essential hormone in building muscle mass and helps with bone growth. This is exceptionally good news if you are doing strength and resistance training.
- Decreased post-workout aches. Pain in your muscles or soreness in your body after a workout comes from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). Nighttime exercise optimizes oxygen use because your lungs are working at a higher capacity then than at any other time of the day. Due to this, your body has a higher anaerobic capacity, and despite the capability for a more intense session, your muscles won't scream at you later. Well, not as much.
When everything is said and done, you have to pick a workout schedule that’s right for you in order to maximize its benefits.
Working out at different times can give you very different results, but is it really the time of day, or how you react to it that makes a difference?