When is the best time to get in a workout? Some early risers swear by the before-school routine, some prefer a post-dinner session at the gym. Whatever your schedule, working out can boost your energy, metabolism, and athleticism, but the results you get may be affected by when you choose to hit the gym.
Research suggests that morning workouts can help you lose weight. By exercising first thing in the morning, you kick-start your body’s oxidation process and boost your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. So morning workouts can be a great strategy for weight loss!
Working out in the morning can also be psychologically useful. A study conducted at Appalachian State University found that morning workouts are preferable if you want a better night’s rest. When you wake up as soon as the sun rises, your mind associates daylight with being awake and therefore helps you sleep when it’s dark and maximizes productivity during the day. Plus, you’ll be more tired after a day started with raising your heart rate.
Furthermore, getting in the habit of doing physical activity as soon as you wake up can train your body to work as soon as it wakes up and reduces drowsiness, leaving you feeling energized and alert. No more of those long-drug-out, multi-alarm mornings!
However, if the thought of waking up an extra hour early is not in your realm of potentials, there are plenty of benefits to a night workout which may better suit your lifestyle.
Bodies naturally have more energy in the evenings, which will give you more strength and endurance during your workout. In this time, muscles are more flexible and reaction time is quicker. The late afternoon or evening is when protein synthesis peaks, making this the most effectual time to build muscle through weight training or cardio. Plus, young athletes who already have to wake up early for school may see detrimental results from less sleep.
One research group studying participants working out at five different times of day found a profound increase in overall fitness levels for those who worked out in the late afternoon. Working out in the afternoon, when bodies are awake and filled with the nutrients from meals eaten earlier in the day, are able to manage more intense workouts and therefore increase health sustainably.
Between the metabolism-boosting kick-start of a morning workout, and performance-peaked evening workouts, it is up to the athlete to know their body and do what feels best.
For more answers to your sports questions, check out the Player’s Health blog!
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