BEST TIMES TO WORK OUT AND WHY

October 14, 2019

One of the great things about working outside of a traditional 9-5 office is the ability to set your own schedule. We all know that when we incorporate exercise into our days we feel better and are healthier. But with access to great parks, gyms, trails, and team sports almost all day in a busy and active area like the South Loop, we often find ourselves thinking about when the best time to exercise would be.

The truth is, every time has its perks, and the most important thing is to find a time of day when you’re able to exercise and then stick with it, so that it becomes a habit. So, if you simply can’t face a workout before noon, don’t force yourself. Likewise, if you know you’ll procrastinate if you don’t hit the gym right after you brush your teeth, then get in there and get it done.

Research suggests that for people who have trouble with consistent exercise, mornings are the best time to work out. Because morning workouts tend to come first thing, other commitments and pressures can’t get in the way. However, our bodies tend to have lower temperatures in the morning, and anybody who has ever overslept their alarm and run for the bus knows that we really need a little time to warm up, so ease into those morning workouts with a good stretch and warm up before you go hard.

Exercising in the morning also takes advantage of elevated levels of growth hormone and cortisol, which might help you draw more energy from fat reserves which could potentially aid in weight loss. Research (https://news.byu.edu/news/byu-study-says-exercise-may-reduce-motivation-food) also suggests that morning exercisers have less appetite throughout the day which could also help prevent excess weight gain.

If you hate the alarm, there is evidence to suggest that committing to a program of morning exercise and sticking to it could actually change you into a morning person. A study in the Journal of Physiology https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1113/JP276943 changes your body chemistry in favor of an earlier waking time in just three days. Not only will you feel awake earlier, you’ll feel tired earlier meaning you go to bed and skip the time we all spend after dinner before bed mindlessly browsing the internet and exchange it for productive work out time and rest.

But if you are really not a morning person and find yourself hitting the snooze button again and again, don’t force yourself to work out before breakfast. Afternoon workouts might not have the same fat burning advantages, but they do take advantage of higher blood sugar from your meals eaten that day and that can help with hitting peak intensity. Exercising in the afternoon, say around lunch time, also has the benefit of perking you up and making you more alert when you return to work. If you are going to work out over lunch, it’s better to snack mid-morning and eat your larger midday meal after you exercise.

Night time workouts are ok if that’s what works best for you. Expert opinions differ on if they disrupt sleep or not, but it seems that as long as you don’t plan to hit the sack as soon as you leave the shower after your workout, you’re probably fine. A bit of light stretching and yoga can even help you relax and unwind after a hard day.

The bottom line here is that working out is great for your mental and physical health. If you can fit in your exercise before work, that’s great, but the most important thing is to commit to a regular time and stick to a schedule, so you don’t end up skipping workouts.

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