Is there such a thing as the best time of day to work out? Some people swear by the effectiveness of a morning routine. For others, you won’t hear the end of it if you oppose that evening/afternoon exercises are the way to go. The endless speculation swirling online surely doesn’t help and can leave you with more questions than answers given the huge divisions across the interwebs. What time of day is the best to work out? Is it better to exercise in the morning or evening or afternoon? Today, we settle this age-old debate once and for all.

Exercising in the morning- the evidence for it 

Morning people and a considerable number of San Diego gyms seem to swear by an early routine. Working out early in the day can set you up wonderfully for the rest that is to come, and give you the launch you need to achieve your goals. 

Researchers in Finland set out a while ago to find out the best time to work out. Their findings argue for the benefits of morning workouts compared to evening/afternoon exercises. 

Here are some insightful details about their findings: 

  • People who exercise in the morning tend to take in half an hour more of physical activity than those who do so in the early evening
  • Exercising between 6 and  8 am had better results on blood pressure and belly fat drops
  • Subjects who exercise after a night of fasting realized 200% elevated fat burning than those who did so in the evening

This study hypothesizes that if you work out in the morning, you’re likely to go the distance with your workout, and that will have a huge influence on your results. This actually makes sense given that you’re most energetic in the morning before the day’s activities deplete your energy. 

Pros of working out in the morning 

Is it better to do exercise in the morning or at night? One San Diego personal trainer understands why many believe so because muscle-building hormones such as testosterone tend to peak during morning hours. 

Moreover, exercise can induce a natural caffeinator effect, and that may mean better control over your appetite. If you’re working out for weight loss or muscle gain, you now have one reason to be the early bird. 

More pros of morning workouts, from our round-up of various studies, include: 

  • Better impact on deep sleep compared to evening workouts
  • Accelerated fat burning, more so when preceded by a night of fasting
  • Better craving management 
  • Science finds morning exercisers tend to be more consistent
  • Fewer distractions to contend with 

Cons of morning workouts 

Morning workouts can be fun, inspiring, and highly effective. But there are some drawbacks to think about, according to San Diego fitness experts. 

For instance, some downsides to working out in the morning include: 

  • Higher risk of injury, more so if you get into your routine without warming up. That’s because your muscles have largely been inactive overnight
  • Lower energy levels in the morning, especially if you work out before breakfast
  • A highly intense morning routine can sap your energy for the rest of the day

Exercising in the evening/night- the evidence backing it

Not an early bird? This section is for you. There is quite a lot in it for the night owls who prefer to work out at the end of the day. First, your endurance levels may be higher at night, if research by CNET is anything to go by.

The findings reveal that, when you work out in the afternoon or the early evening, you’re bound to last 20% longer as exhaustion won’t set in as quickly.  We picked the mind of a personal trainer San Diego as to why that is so, and he says it could be due to the swing in the hormone cortisol. 

Otherwise known as the “stress hormone,” cortisol levels remain high during the daytime and dwindle toward night as your body readies you for slumber. And with fatigue linked to high cortisol levels, this could explain why you may feel more energetic at night.

Pros of working out in the evening

Afternoon, late evenings, and nighttime exercises have their benefits as well. Besides a possible spike in energy levels as we’ve discussed, here are a few more significant ones: 

  • Elevated core temperature: your core temperature is already high later in the day so you’re likely to hit your stride faster. That’s not to say you should skip warm up though
  • Working out in the evening can be stress relieving due to the endorphin boost
  • Gyms in San Diego tend to be less crowded so you can enjoy more privacy
  • Most people spend evenings in front of their phones or TV. Working out later in the day can help shatter unhealthy patterns

The downsides of working out at night

Is there a downside to working out at night? We reached out to a couple of personal trainers near me, had a word with the experts over at IronOrrFitness, and were able to discover some of the shortcomings of evening and afternoon workouts. 

The most notable disadvantages of working out at night include: 

  • Sleep interference, more so if you work out too close to your bedtime. This is due to elevated heart rate and core temperature which increases alertness 
  • With disrupted sleep,  muscle repair and growth may also take a hit
  • Consistency may be a problem, due to fatigue accumulated during the day
  • Easy to get side-tracked by distractions such as TV

Verdict: When is your best time to work out? 

We’ve taken a look at the benefits of working out in the evening/afternoon as well as in the morning. And also discussed the shortcomings of each. So when is the best time to lace up? The best personal trainer we could find advises you to train when you can, and when you feel your most energetic and inspired self. Time of day doesn’t count for much compared to setting up a routine and sticking to it. So no matter when you choose to work out, aim to be consistent. To get more tips on exercise, weight loss, and building muscle, check out the IronOrrFitness blog. 

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