Quite a few of my clients lately have been asking me- when is the best time during the day to work out? Some like to get up before dawn for a run. Others could never bring themselves to break a sweat before noon. The truth is that while there could be some calorie burning advantages to working out in the early morning- it’s certainly not for every one.
Why? Well, I like to work out early, but my body clock is probably not the same as yours. Your body’s circadian rhythm determines whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, and there’s not much you can do to change that.
The earth’s 24-hour rotation governs your circadian rhythm. The rhythms influence pretty much everything about your body- blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels and heart rate. All of that plays an important role in whether you’re ready to exercise or not. Of course, most of us also have to take into account our work schedules and family obligations.
Bottom line- the most important thing you can do it to choose a time of day you can stick with, so that exercise becomes a habit.
Why early morning? That could be best, especially if you have problems with consistency. Get your exercise in before other pressures interfere- like work and family.
Of course, to feel like exercising in the morning, you need to have a good night’s sleep. Good, regular bedtime habits help get your body ready for rest so you can get your eight hours. Late night physical activity or eating late can sabotage your body’s urge to sleep.
For some people, lunchtime is the best time to exercise, especially if they enjoy company, like co-workers who are willing to hit the gym or take a run or a walk. One thing to keep in mind- eat after you work out, not before. If you eat before, the blood that needs to go to your muscles is going instead to your digestive tract to help you break down that meal. Remember what your mom told you about swimming? Wait 90 minutes after a heavy meal to work out.
You don’t have to be an expert on circadian rhythms to determine the best time to exercise. Simply try different times of the day. Work out in the morning for a few weeks, and then try lunchtime, then early evening. Discover which time you enjoy most and which makes you feel the best? Then, make every effort to keep that appointment with yourself.
Most importantly is to find a time that makes working out a consistent part of your life.