It’s common knowledge that we need sufficient exercise to stay fit and healthy, but is there any one time of day where you stand to gain more from your workout sessions?
Whether it’s better to exercise in the morning or evening is a debate that continues to rage on, with plenty of advocates in both camps. Dwayne Johnson, AKA The Rock, is a big fan of morning exercise, while Usain Bolt prefers training in the evening. But, who’s right and who’s wrong?
In actual fact, whether morning or evening exercise is better is largely down to what works best for you. The key factor is to find a time that fits into your daily routines, and to stick at it. However, there are a few things to consider that might influence your decision on when to exercise.
Studies have found that people who exercise earlier on in the day have a stronger willpower to train than those who work out in the evening. This is because as the day goes on, more factors are likely to crop up that may put you off from actually doing exercise. If you like the idea of getting exercise out of the way before the day sets in, morning sessions may be better. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of morning lie-ins, forcing yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn is unlikely to have staying power, so evening workouts will be more do-able.
Exercise at any time of the day can contribute to weight loss, but some researchers reckon that you’re more likely to shed excess pounds if you’re an early bird exerciser compared to a night owl.
This could be because exercising in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day, encouraging you to make healthier choices. It also gets your metabolism into gear early on, helping to burn calories during the day, rather than when you sleep at night. One study found that you burn 20% more fat from exercising earlier on in the day, although another report suggests that those who exercise in the evening experience a 7% increase of anaerobic capacity.
Other researchers claim that people who exercise in the evening tend to work harder, which could lead to extra weight loss. Certainly, if your evening alternative would be going down the pub or slouching in front of the TV laden with snacks, then training at this time will keep tempting calories out of your path.
Scientists have looked at the effects of exercise times on sleep and conclude that both morning or evening workouts can have a positive impact on promoting quality slumber, but in different ways.
While morning exercise can lower blood pressure at night by 25%, helping you to sleep better, evening exercise heats the body similar to having a warm bath, which can encourage relaxation. Plus, exercise in the evening can soothe the stresses of the day, lowering anxiety-inducing hormones and making it easier to nod off at night free from worries.
If you suffer from joint problems, stiffness, swelling or mobility issues, these are more likely to strike first thing in the morning. This can compromise your ability to exercise at the start of the day and may even increase the risk of injuries. In which case, it may be preferable to wait until the evening to exercise. By this time your body will have warmed up during the day and become more flexible and supple. In fact, researchers claim that your muscles and joints are 20% more flexible in the evening compared to the morning. Even better, some experts claim you’ll work harder at exercise at the close of day as protein synthesis peaks at this time.