One of the most difficult decisions we make about our fitness is when we want to schedule our workouts. There are many factors to consider when weighing when you should exercise with your daily schedule of events and routines. This might lead you to ask if there is a definite best time to work out to help set your schedule up for success. As you might imagine, there is no simple answer, but we have some helpful insights on how your schedule can affect your workout.
If your first thought about when you should exercise is that you need to get up super early to do it, you might want to rethink. Working out earlier in the morning could set you on a pattern of making healthier choices that day, but there are some drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons:
- You can knock out the hard part of working out before most of your day begins, which can help with overall energy levels and decision-making throughout the day. It’s easier to turn down that morning donut if you're still feeling the effects of your neighborhood run.
- It helps support focus and mood. Exercising tends to help you focus later on and gives you a healthy dose of endorphins as well. Starting your day off with this benefit can help set you up for success.
- Morning workouts are initially met with stiff muscles and joints after a night of sleep, so you need a longer warm-up period to see the full benefits safely.
- If you’re a night owl, this probably isn’t the best time to work out. Sleep is a crucial element of fitness and if your alarm is exceptionally early, what you lost in sleep can negate the health benefits of your workout.
Sometimes we need to adjust our workout to occur at night after the day’s events are done to find the best time to work out. Here’s what you can expect with nighttime workouts:
- One great option for when you should exercise is after a long and stressful day, as working out can be a great way to clear your head. Heading to the gym later at night also typically means fewer people will be there, and you’ll be more able to focus on grounding yourself after a long day.
- Working out later at night sets you up for a well-rested night of sleep, cutting down on restlessness and helping you stay asleep. This will also set you on the right path the following day—you feel energized and ready for anything.
- It’s much easier to make excuses for missing a workout once the workday is over, so maintaining a consistent workout schedule can be difficult once social engagements come into play.
- While working out at night can help you sleep, if it’s less than an hour before bedtime, that’s not good. High-intensity exercises make you more alert, which means you’ll have a harder time falling asleep.
Ultimately, figuring out the best time to work out comes down to personal preference and your individual fitness goals. Everyone’s fitness journey is different but here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Since our internal temperature is lower in the mornings, early workouts cater well to cardio exercise, healthier decisions, and long-term weight loss. Temperatures are higher in the evening, causing output to be higher, which is great for strength training.
- Making sure to keep your body sufficiently fueled throughout the day with proper nutrition and hydration is crucial to achieving progress with your workouts.
If you’re finding time in your busy day to work out: good job. If you’re able to establish consistency and approach your workouts with mindfulness, you’re likely to see positive results regardless of when you work out. Overall, establishing healthy habits is the most important part of any fitness journey, which means the best time to work out can be whatever time works best for you.