The question is as old as the chicken and the egg debate: When is it best to work out? The answer is simple — it depends. There are benefits to morning, afternoon and evening workouts.
Let’s find out what’s best for you.
If you are a morning person, you’re not alone. One study found that 50% of U.S. adults who exercise at a preferred time choose mornings. And if your goal is to lose weight, this may be the best time since an International Journal of Obesity study linked morning workouts with greater weight loss.
Some experts suggest working out on an empty stomach, which is much easier to do first thing in the morning. Finally, studies also suggest that morning workouts can boost your mood.
Then again, we’re not all early risers and don’t want to be. Also, your muscles may be stiff so make sure you warm up to prevent injuries.
If you can work out during lunch, you are more likely to stick to it; if you can grab a few coworkers, it makes working out a bit more fun. Mid-day workouts also are a great way to boost your energy, preventing that 3 o’clock slump.
This may also limit your lunch break so make sure you eat a healthy meal afterward.
Of course, not everyone wants to lose a lunch hour at the gym or can’t make a consistent commitment. Mid-day workouts can lessen the time spent at the gym because your time is limited.
In addition, afternoon resistance training produces more testosterone than the same morning workout.
Research suggests that evening workouts can increase physical capacity, aerobic capacity and strength output by 8% to 30%.
And don’t worry, the Journal of Sleep Research found vigorous exercise to have no influence on quality of sleep.
But evenings may see many people ready to call it a day. Family commitments may prevent consistency, and if you do hit the gym, after work hours may be the most crowded.
Bottom line, find a time best for you and stick with it. Consistency is the key to seeing results, regardless of when you decide to work out.