Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Morning or Evening Workouts?

I've been fighting with myself lately. I have the on-going debate about my exercise schedule. You see - naturally, I am a night owl. I do not enjoy waking up early in the morning, and generally my alarm that goes off at 6:30AM still has me zombie-walking around my house.

But - I had in my head that the only good time to exercise is morning. You get the most burn, the most energy, and the best results in the morning. So, I've been forcing myself up at 5:45AM. Let me just tell you - after a few weeks of this only a few times a week, this is not working for me.

Reading around, I found this great article that gives me hope about exercising in the evenings.

  • Late Afternoon is Best for Exercise
    Research shows that the optimal time to exercise is when our body temperature is at its highest, which, for most people is 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (body temperature is at its lowest just before waking).

  • Strength is Greater in the Afternoon
    Dr. Hill reported that strength output is 5% higher at around mid-day; anaerobic performance, such as sprinting, improves by 5% in the late afternoon.

  • Endurance is Greater in the Afternoon
    Aerobic capacity (endurance) is approximately 4percent higher in the afternoon.

  • Injuries Are Less Likely in the Afternoon
    Afternoon exercise is the best if you want to avoid injuries for many reasons. We are most alert; our body temperature is the highest so our muscles are warm and flexible; and our muscle strength is at its greatest. These three factors make it less likely that we will get injured.

  • Morning Exercisers Are More Consistent
    Even though afternoon exercise might be optimal from a physiological standpoint, research also shows that morning exercisers are more likely to stick to it that late-day athletes.

  • Evening Exercise and Sleep
    Most research supports the idea that exercise can improve sleep quality. But does exercising too late in the evening keep you up? Studies have shown improvements in sleep from both morning and afternoon exercise, so it's not yet clear if evening exercise keeps you up. One study even showed that vigorous exercise half an hour before bedtime did not affect sleep.

  • I've decided - does it really matter when I exercise? If I don't stick with it, any prime time is useless. It doesn't matter if I exercise at 6AM or 10PM, just exercising regularly is probably good enough. I need to stop wasting energy debating with myself and start using it to exercise more consistently - at night!


    1. I'm all over the map when I exercise:
      M/Th it's at 10:30
      Tuesdays: 4-6PM
      W at 9:15
      Fridays: either 1:00 or 4:30
      Weekends - whenever I choose.

      I could take classes any time of day but these are the instructors and times that worked best with my schedule.

      But really, any time to exercise IS a good time!!

    2. I agree, go with a time that you can comfortably commit too.

      I prefer to workout in the morning, but I'm going to have to go against my preference and workout at night. To ensure that I don't skip these workouts, I'm going to register for some sort of event, probably a 5k run.