When is the best time to exercise during the day for best results?
Exercising is very important for people, irrespective of their age, weight or lifestyle. It can be challenging but possible by following a consistent schedule, proper mix of exercise and a lot of determination and focus. It is important to understand your goal before going on any workout schedule. Is it weight loss? If yes, how much and in how many days? Do you want to tone your muscles? Or, do you just want to maintain your current shape?
Once you know your goal, you need to chalk out your schedule. It is important to know that your body will react to different exercises in different ways at different points of time. Here are guidelines on best times to exercise during the day and exercises that work best at specific times:
Your body clock
All of us have body clock rhythms that influence our blood pressure, temperature, metabolism and heart rate that in turn affect our readiness to exercise. These rhythms can be changed with certain external cues like the time during the day you exercise. For example, people who consistently exercise in mornings, ‘teach’ their body to perform the best during those times. They may not be able to perform as well during other times of the day. You need to decide, with trial and error (and considering social obligations, responsibilities, work requirements, etc.) which periods would be suitable for you. Exercise in the mornings for few days, then try afternoons and so on. Which do you enjoy the most and what makes you feel the best afterward?
Once you have charted out an exercise routine, stick to it. Studies have shown that those who exercise randomly are more likely to drop out. Fix a schedule and hit the gym or jogging park at the same times everyday so that it becomes a habit. Also, your body will respond to the workouts better, thus giving better and quicker results. After you have followed an exercise routine for a while, it will come to you as easy as breathing. You may then want to bring in some variety by changing the type or time of exercises. The new routine will take at least a month to set in.
The Perks of Morning Exercise
While the general impression is that morning exercise is good because it helps you kick start your day and keeps you energized whole day, it is essential that one measures pros and cons of first light workout before deciding.
Morning workouts are best if you want a good night’s sleep. People who exercise in mornings have a greater percentage of deep sleep stage at night. Better you sleep, better is your stress level, blood pressure and weight. Morning exercise also helps regularizing your sleep schedule. Your body gets used to waking up at the same time every day.
People who work out in the morning are also more likely to be successful.
Just be cautious about the fact that body temperatures are low in the morning. Hence, you need to spend more time on warm up than usual. Lack of proper warm up can lead to muscle injuries.
Best exercises for mornings: Walking, Yoga, Running, Jumping jacks, Crunches, Skipping, Lunges
Why Later Is Better
Experts have observed that afternoons or evenings are good for high-power exercises like sprinting, swimming, biking or weights. This is because endurance and strength is better in the afternoon. For many people, exercising in the morning means fighting it out whereas by afternoon, body falls into a rhythm by itself. You are also less prone to injuries in the afternoon.
Just be sure to eat after you work out and not before.
Exercising in evenings is okay too but make sure you do not exercise too close to your bedtime. It is pertinent not to exercise beyond 6 pm.
Best exercises for afternoon: Strength training, Dumbbell Exercises, Biking, Swimming.
If your goal is weight loss, the best time to exercise is morning on an empty stomach, whether it is aerobic exercise (cardio) or strength training (weights). In the mornings, your body is low on blood sugar levels and carbs because of overnight fast. When you work out without eating anything, your body draws in stored fats to meet caloric demands of exercise. Whereas, if you eat and exercise, your body relies on carbohydrates from your meal, and you do not use any accumulated fats. If you cannot exercise early morning, wait for 2-3 hours after your first meal to exercise.
Other tips to achieve optimal results:
- Never exercise immediately after a meal. Allow at least a 90 minutes gap.
- Never exercise when you are unwell. Do not push your body for results during weakness.
- Have a consistent sleep schedule.
- Combine exercise with a good diet.
- Every workout must be followed by protein intake to build muscles back. Fish, turkey sandwich, lentils, eggs, dry fruits, yogurt with fruits, banana milkshake, apples or orange juice are your best options.
- Do consume water while exercising to stay hydrated.
- Have a heavy meal before 3 pm. 40% of day’s total calorie intake must be ideally consumed during lunch. This actually boosts metabolism.
- Do not weigh yourself every day. Your body will not react so soon. And it can be discouraging. Weigh yourself twice a month.
The bottom line is there is no best time to exercise. Find out what is best for you. While it would be great to stick to an unchanging exercise schedule, it is not always possible. In that case, it is better to exercise at any other time than turning into a couch potato. Some exercise is better than nothing.