When it comes to exercise, we do all we can to ensure optimal results every time. From calorie-burning workout plans, to stress-busting activities, we typically curate our physical activity to achieve specific fitness goals.
But as much as we strive to hit our personal peaks, we are also unaware that some of our habits could be negatively impacting our results—including the time of day we exercise.
While the time of day someone works out may seem irrelevant, it turns out there is quite a bit of difference between breaking a sweat in the morning compared to the afternoon.
“For weight loss, there’s research that has looked at people engaging in morning versus afternoon exercise, and those who exercise in the morning have lower blood pressure throughout the day and get better sleep,” associate professor of applied exercise science, Lara Carlson, told Women’s Health.
Carlson also added that not only is the morning best for working off calories, but having your work outs first thing can also help get you into a healthy routine. “I tell people if you make it the first thing you do, research shows you’re more likely to adhere,” she said.
But as beneficial as morning workouts may be, there is also evidence to suggest that working out later in the day has benefits of its own. According to a study published in the Chronobiology International Journal, researchers determined that when your body temperature increases later in the day, so too does your enzyme activity and muscular function.
Going by this theory, you’re best to squeeze your physical activity in between 2pm and 6pm. Plus, most people are far more likely to exercise after work than before. This way, your daily burn can double as your end-of-day wind down.
And the good news for morning snoozers doesn’t end there. A 2012 study published in the December Journal of Physiology found that exercise—afternoon exercise in particular—helps to regulate circadian rhythms (AKA your body clock). So not only are you getting fit, but you’re also regulating the rest of your bodily functions. But perks aside, do make sure you’re not leaving your daily pump for too late. The later your heartrate and body temperature is raised, to more difficult it will be for your to wind down and fall asleep—so do make sure you’re allowing several hours of down time before setting your head on your pillow.
All evidence considered, it doesn’t really matter what time of day you choose to exercise, so long as it doesn’t mess with your body clock, works with your daily routine and—most importantly— stays consistent.