What’s the best time to exercise? Morning, middle of the day, or in the evening?
It’s a question that many people ask.
Personally, we think morning is the best time to workout. While this time of day may not suit everyone, there are many compelling reasons why you should get up and moving, instead of hitting the snooze button.
You’ll find time to do it!
One of the main benefits of morning exercise is you’ll find time to do it! How many times have you promised yourself you’ll go to the gym or for a walk after work and it never happens? Life happens, especially when you’re raising kids, which can thwart even the best-laid plans. Getting your workout in before the day starts means that whatever crops up during the day won’t prevent you from getting it done.
You won’t procrastinate
The very thought of exercising fills some people with dread. And we often procrastinate about the things we don’t want to do. If you schedule your exercise later in the day, you have hours to come up with an excuse as to why you can’t get it done (and you’ll usually come up with one). But committing to an early morning exercise session means you’re less likely to skip it. This will increase your level of accountability which will help you achieve your results.
Your mood is better
Exercising has also been shown to improve mood, so getting it done first thing will mean you’re happier throughout the day.
You’re more rested and focused
When you’re well-rested from a good night’s sleep, you’re more focused. Being more focused means you’ll train better and maximise your results. You’ll also reduce the risk of injury, which means you’ll be more consistent with your exercise, leading to faster results.
You’ll increase your post-workout nutrition
Exercising in the morning, gives you more opportunities to eat food that nourishes your body, which will lead to better results. Morning exercise will allow you 4-6 opportunities to eat throughout the rest of the day, whereas evening exercise usually offers only one opportunity before you go to bed. Post-workout nutrition is a key factor in building muscle to boost your metabolism, refueling your body, and aiding recovery. When you recover well from your sessions, you’ll be more consistent with your training, which will lead you to faster weight loss results.
You’ll be more productive and energised
When you get up earlier, you have more time in your day to get things done. Early morning exercise wakes up your body and your mind, so you’re firing on all cylinders, and not walking around half-asleep. Even science backs this up, with studies showing that exercising in the morning boosts productivity and energy levels. This means you’ll be happier at work, and more successful in business and your profession.
You’re less likely to injure yourself
At the end of the day after work, you’re usually tired, especially if you’ve been dealing with difficult clients, or meeting urgent deadlines. Energy levels can be low which means that if you exercise at the end of the day, you’re more likely to injure yourself because you’re rushing through your workout, or because you’re not fully focused. Exercising in the morning eliminates this risk.
You’ll do at least one thing for yourself
When you’re busy raising kids, running a business or going to work, it can be hard to carve out time for yourself without feeling guilty. But scheduling an early morning exercise session (before anyone else is out of bed) can mean you can do something positive for yourself without the guilt.
You’ll reduce binge eating
Doing a good morning workout sets you up well for the day, particularly when it comes to your nutritional choices. Studies show that those who commit to early morning exercise make better and healthier food choices than those who don’t. When you’ve done something healthy for your body, you want to keep making healthy choices when it comes to food, especially if you’ve prepared healthy meals in advance.
On the other hand not exercising in the morning increases the likelihood of having an unhealthy breakfast. When this happens, you’re more likely to self-sabotage by thinking ‘I’ve already stuffed it up, so I may as well keep going’. This is what leads to binge eating.
You’ll reduce alcohol consumption
Knowing you have to get up early in the morning for training will mean you’re less likely to have a big night drinking alcohol the night before. Drinking alcohol has a huge impact on your body shape. It not only increases your calorie intake but increases your hunger, leads to poorer food choices, and impairs muscle growth. It prevents you from burning fat, increases fat accumulation and leads to poorer results. So set the alarm for the morning!
You’ll develop better sleep habits
Another reason why morning is the best time to exercise is because it helps you develop good sleeping habits. Sleep is a key factor when it comes to changing your body shape. If you’re sleep deprived, or have poor sleep habits, you’ll find it extremely difficult to change your body. Knowing you have to get up early will mean you’ll build a night-time routine that will improve your sleep, and reduce metabolic blockers including stress.
You’ll actually sleep better
Exercise not only improves your sleep habits but the quantity and quality of your sleep. Exercising in the morning expends energy which helps you feel more ready to rest at the end of the day. Exercise also contributes to a more sound and restful sleep by improving your deep sleep. Deep sleep boosts your immune function, cardiac and mental health, as well as reducing stress.
However, exercising at the end of the day can leave you feeling energised and stimulated, making the transition to sleep harder. Your body temperature is also raised for up to 4 hours after exercise, which also makes it hard to sleep. So if you want to sleep better, get moving in the morning.
You’ll be healthier on the inside
Studies have shown that morning exercise improves blood glucose control and blood pressure management — just two examples of the invisible impacts exercise has on the body.
You’ll feel more confident
Knowing you’ve done something positive for yourself and put yourself first, will help you feel more confident. As well as feeling proud of yourself for setting a goal and committing to it, you’ll begin to notice the physical benefits of exercise (e.g. weight loss, changing body shape, better mood and sleep), which will also increase your confidence levels.
You’ll beat the heat
Summertime in Australia can get pretty hot. As the thermometer rises, our motivation to exercise falls, meaning a workout scheduled for the afternoon or evening never eventuates. Exercising in the cooler part of the day can also be more comfortable for women who are experiencing side effects of menopause, such as hot flushes.
You’ll have more time
When you know your workout is done, the rest of the day is yours (once you’ve been to work, that is!) But this means that your evening is free to spend time with the family, or doing things you love. You might even be able to get to bed a little early!
Morning exercise helps build other habits
Exercising in the morning also helps you build other habits. For example, knowing you’re getting up early to work out means you change your nighttime habits about getting to bed. You’ll also reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, and you’ll make better food choices, knowing that if you eat junk food, you won’t be able to perform in your session.
Making better food choices (especially eating your pre-prepared meals), will also mean you’ll save money, because you won’t be buying expensive take-away. When you exercise in the morning you’ll have less to do at night, which means more time to relax, and get to bed early. And when you get better rest and recovery, you’ll get better and faster results.
What if you can’t exercise in the morning?
Of course, early mornings won’t suit everyone. For example, people who do shift work, or start work in the early hours will find it difficult to commit to morning exercise sessions.
In the case of shift workers who want to exercise regularly, our advice is to do it shortly after you wake up to get it in and out of the way and to avoid procrastination. Do whatever is in your training plan or schedule shortly after you wake up. You can do this by:
- Choosing the times and days that will suit you best
- Scheduling your workout sessions in your diary
- Sticking to the schedule and only changing your workout time when it’s necessary
- Working out at least two hours before you go to bed
- Ensuring that you’re organised before your session (e.g. your clothes are ready, your food is ready)
- Making yourself accountable to this time by working with a coach.
In reality there is no right time to exercise, there is only a preference and this preference depends on your lifestyle, what you’d like to achieve in a work out and your goals. The main priority is to make exercise a consistent habit.
- Be careful you don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
- Finish your workout at least two hours before bed
- Allow enough time to eat and rehydrate afterwards
- Be aware that exercising in the evening can stimulate you, making it harder to sleep
- Your body temperature is higher for up to four hours after a workout, which can also make it harder for you to sleep.
Are you ready to make exercise a new habit?
At Imani Tribe we help our clients make regular exercise a habit that they will have for life. Our FIRE (Focused Intense Resistance Exercise) and ICE (Intense Cardio Exercise) programs run in the mornings, meaning we make the most of this magical time of day. Our clients also experience all the benefits associated with early morning workouts, which helps speed their results.