The Actual Best Time Of Day To Work Out So You Can Finally See Results

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couple lifting weights

When we plan a workout regime, sometimes it feels like the hardest part of the equation is finding the time in our day to fit it in. To many of us, it seems like there’s never enough time.

But it turns out that the time of day you choose to exercise may come with its own set of benefits.

When is the best time to work out?

The answer isn't totally cut and dry, and not every expert will agree. But the best time to exercise can be determined with science.

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According to one study, your body temperature increases to its highest in the afternoon to early evening, between 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

This means that your muscles and enzymes are at peak performance, as is your oxygen uptake and reaction time. Your blood pressure and heart rate are also at their lowest during this time.

Generally, the answer depends on what your goals are and who you are as a person. After all, no matter what time of day you choose to exercise, the important part is that you are getting in your daily workout.

Still, there are arguments both for and against working out in the morning versus working out in the evening or afternoon.

Why You Should Work Out in the Morning

The argument for working out in the morning is that you are more likely to do it before other responsibilities of your day get in the way.

Exercising in the morning can also lead you to make healthier eating choices, according to a study published by the International Journal of Obesity.

Not only will morning workouts affect your food choices, but your alertness and overall energy will also increase. Mentally, if you work out in the morning, you will be more focused and in a better mood for the rest of your day.

However, there are a few disadvantages to exercising early in the morning. These include dizziness, fainting, and muscle cramps, especially if you aren't hydrated properly or if you are exerting yourself on an empty stomach.

So if you are a morning person, be sure to hydrate and eat something before pushing yourself.

Why You Should Work Out in the Afternoon or Evening

Working out in the afternoon is best for strength and endurance exercises. This is because we push ourselves further later in the day due to our higher glucose levels, allowing more energy to be used.

Exercising in the afternoon or evening time actually burns more calories — approximately 10% more, to be exact.

Exercising later in the day has also been shown to lower our stress levels. It helps us leave our issues and work from the day behind us. It allows us to burn through all of that pent-up emotion and relax before heading to bed.

However, exercising in the evening can affect your sleep quality. When you exercise, you become more alert, which can cause issues when you are trying to fall asleep.

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How to Decide When to Work Out

When deciding the best time for you to work out, there are certain things to consider. Either way, you will receive health benefits... and some disadvantages.

1. Find a time that works for you.

According to Maggie Umberger, Director of Communities at aSweatLife, “We've talked about how if your goal is to build muscle strength, there is a slight increase in muscle power and force production later in the day.”

“If you hate crowds and want a gym to yourself in order to feel most productive, aim to fit your schedule around hitting the gym in off-peak hours (i.e., not 6-8 a.m. or 5-7 p.m.)," she advises.

"And if you have a super-busy schedule with work, such that you don't know when you'll leave the office once you're in, make it a priority to work out in the morning.”

2. Remember that any time of day is better than none at all.

Ultimately, there is information to support benefits around working out in the morning and the evening. But if the time you choose doesn't work into your schedule and you end up not doing your workout at all, you won't reap any of those benefits.

“At aSweatLife, we love the phrase 'the best workout you can do is the one you'll actually do,' and the same goes for the timing of your workout," Umberger says.

"Building habits takes time, so if you're able to establish consistency in whichever time frame you pick, you'll be more successful in solidifying those habits as part of your daily life. And once your workout becomes an integrated part of your day, you'll really start to see the benefits — mind, body, and soul — from that workout hour.”

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3. Some believe working out in the morning is best.

“The best time to work out is in the morning,” says Jordan Campbell, a former NFL player and creator of Winner Circle Athletics, the only charter school in the country that caters to the student athletes in the 4th–8th grades, and offers a training facility for high school, college and professional athletes.

“[Working out in the morning] is a great way to start your day and wake your body up," says Campbell.

"After the workout, you feel like you accomplished something good for yourself. In fact, a morning workout is a lot like breakfast: it gets your metabolism going. Simply put, you burn more calories all day just from the sheer fact of exercising in the morning.”

4. Others say exercising later in the day is when they're most productive.

“To gain better consistency, I suggest working out in the afternoon to early evenings,” advises April Sutton, a personal trainer and professional stuntwoman. "Your body will most likely adapt to regular gym sessions by doing this."

Sutton continues by adding that by this time of day, your body has enough calories for a high-energy burn.

"By now you have consumed enough calories to have energy for your workout, which will lead to a better workout performance. Your body temperature matters a lot, too. With a higher body temperature, your muscle strength and endurance increases.”

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.