If we want to lose weight and maximize fat loss should we be exercising in the morning, afternoon or at night?
There are some good reasons for morning workout and also some very good reasons why it might not be a great idea.
Let’s try to analyze each of these under the headings of pros and cons.
Exercising in the morning can:
- Get our metabolisms off to a flying start helping us burn more calories throughout the day;
- Promote more fat burning because our depleted glycogen stores force our bodies to turn to fat;
- Produce endorphins that stimulates us and helps us get off to a positive start to the day;
- Act like a cup of coffee and wake us up;
- Help us exercise more consistently by minimizing distractions;
- Can create time for exercise by forcing us to get up a bit earlier;
- Improve energy levels for the rest of the day ahead;
- Improve our mental sharpness for hours after;
- Allow us to exercise unaffected by summer heat;
- Minimize our exposure to air pollution exercising outside;
- Make it easier to get on machines in the gym without waiting and when time limits don’t apply;
Morning exercise can:
- Force us to workout with less than optimal energy levels;
- Promote injuries by forcing us to workout with cold, stiff muscles;
- If exercising before eating, muscle (as well as fat) can be used as a fuel source;
- Make it difficult for us to form a habit for exercise (if we are not “morning people”);
- Put some of us at higher risk for heart attack (research suggests a generalized increased risk);
Contrary to the popular belief that exercising in the morning is best, some research shows that the ideal time to exercise from a physiological perspective is actually in the afternoon.
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of working out in the afternoon.
Exercising in the afternoon can:
- Increase exercise performance – our body temperature is ideal & muscles at peak strength;
- Prevent injuries – our muscles are sufficiently warm and most of us are alert in the late afternoon;
- Improve performance – the circadian rhythms in our brains are in an ideal state;
- Expel our bodies of stress that has accumulated during the day;
- Give us something to look forward to before relaxing in the evening;
- Make exercise seem easier – studies show perceived exertion of exercise is lower late in the day;
- Make exercise convenient – exercising during our lunch break for example;
- Make it easier to “partner up” or find a workout partner;
- Can help lower the amount of food we eat – by helping us to avoid large lunches for example;
- Can help reduce the amount of food we feel like eating for dinner;
- Help us maximize our fitness and – research shows 3-7 pm is best;
Afternoon exercise can:
- Impose time limits which may not allow us to get in a full workout;
- Conflict with distractions and other commitments that prevent us from exercising at all;
- Research suggests lung function is worst at noon which could affect our aerobic performance;
- Gyms are usually at their busiest around 5 to 6pm making it hard to get on equipment;
- Gyms sometimes have time limits on aerobics equipment during the afternoon;