I get asked this question quite often by my clients; when is the best time of day to exercise? Is it better to roll out of bed and into the gym first thing in the morning or drop in on your way home from work in the evening? Do you burn more calories at a particular time of day? Does it even make a difference? The answer may all depend on your goals.
There has been no clear cut evidence shown that says exercise at any particular time of day is most effective, but that doesn’t mean different times of the day don’t impact on other aspects of your workout. Researchers in the U.S conducted a study that tracked the sleeping patterns of people aged 40 to 60 who walked three times per week for 30 minutes at either 7am or 7pm. They discovered that those who exercised in the morning actually had a 10% drop in blood pressure when they slept that night compared to those who exercised in the evening. They also found that the morning exercisers had better sleeping patterns and spent up to 75% more time in the deep sleep phase during the night.
My personal observation is that people who train in the morning tend to be more consistent with their routine as opposed to after work when things come up throughout the day to distract or change your plans.
Although training in the morning is a great idea that can be very beneficial to your health, exercising later in the day has its own physiological benefits also. Research shows that exercising when the bodies temperature is at its highest core temperature is optimal for results as both strength and endurance is increased. This is usually around 4pm to 5pm for most people.
So where does that leave us? Let me tell you, I prefer to exercise in the morning. I workout first thing when I get into work. My routine is to get it done first thing in the morning, except on the days when I have soccer training where this is obviously done in the evening with my team.
My biggest recommendation is to do what suits you the best. We all know that we need to do at least 30min of high intensity training every day, the key is to make sure you have a routine. The bottom line when figuring out what time of the day you should exercise is to look at your schedule. Look at what you have planned for the day and book your exercise into your schedule. Decide on a time during your week that you can exercise at on a consistent basis and stick to it. The key to good results is consistency so finding any time to exercise, regardless of when, is the most important factor. Just do something EVERY DAY!!
Study 1: http://www.news.appstate.edu/2011/06/13/early-morning-exercise/
Study 2: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2003054