Q: When is the best time of the day to exercise and does it really matter?
A: I have been asked this question during many personal training sessions and seminars that I have lead. After following the research for years regarding this topic, there has been no hard evidence that exercising at a certain time of day was particularly better for you. However, more recent research is making stronger recommendations on the best time of day to exercise.
According to the American Council on Exercise, late afternoon looks to be the best time of day to exercise. Your body benefits best from exercise when your muscles are warm, which is typically towards the late afternoon. Naturally, your body is the warmest in the late afternoon and the coolest one to three hours before you wake up due to your body’s circadian rhythm. Studies have shown that exercises during the late afternoon periods are more powerful and produce better performance. For many, exercising after work is a great way to also reduce stress that can be associated with a challenging workday. Therefore, exercising in the afternoon may also have a psychological benefit.
Q: Does it really matter if I choose the “best time of day” to exercise?
A: No, it does not really matter. If you can do it during the late afternoon, you will most likely benefit. However, if you have developed a good habit to workout in the morning or during other times of the day, this is fine too. Your body may have even adapted towards your schedule. Do not get too caught up in forcing exercise during a certain time period. If you can exercise later, then great. If not, no worries.
If you have an optimal choice- late afternoon is best. However, exercise when you can. The benefits of working out at your convenience outweight the minor benefit that you may have coordinating your workout with your circadian rhythm.
When is the best time of day to exercise for you? Share your thoughts below!