“When is the best time of day to exercise to lose weight?”
We get this question a lot in emails and comments and while the answer is “whenever works for you!” We know that seems like a non-answer, so let’s talk about specifics.
When it comes down to it, if you need to exercise in the morning because that’s your only time available, then that’s when you should be exercising. Always go with whatever time works for your schedule because as we’ve said, any exercise is infinitely better than no exercise.
But, for the sake of argument, we’ll pretend that someone has a schedule that allows them to exercise any hour of the day and that person has no personal preference of when to exercise. Is there a specific time slot that will help them lose the most weight?
Let’s look at the basics:
Unfortunately, there isn’t a silver bullet to the best time to exercise. Researchers have found no conclusive evidence of a best time to exercise in order to lose the most weight. Time of day will not affect your calorie burn or help you lose weight faster.
So, that’s it then?
Nope, there are specific benefits and pitfalls to working out during different times of that day, and a lot of it depends on your Circadian Rhythms (your body clock) and there are a lot of reasons you might want to change your exercise to fit your situation. Your body clock controls blood pressure, hormone levels, heart rate and body temperature which are all important to your exercise.
Are you a morning person or are you a night owl? If you’re not sure then you can test it. Exercise for two weeks in the morning, then try it at noon, and finally, make time for 2 weeks of training in the evening. Whichever one you feel most motivated to follow is the one that likely most tunes with your body clock.
Benefits to exercising earlier:
There are psychological benefits to exercising in the morning and it is the most popular time of the day to exercise.
Those who exercises in the morning have a much higher chance to turn exercise into a habit than those who might have to rearrange their schedule to make a trip to the gym viable.
Exercise also gets your blood pumping and improves your mood, which is always a nice way to start the day. However, night owls will feel fatigued by the early schedule and are more likely to lose motivation more quickly. Morning exercise is not for those struggling with insomnia because it can lead to excess fatigue and illness.
Benefits of exercising later:
For those of us who feel like moving to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee in the morning is a tremendous act of willpower; morning exercise isn’t going to help form healthier habits. In fact, it’s more likely that you will give up the exercise than overcome your body’s natural desire for sleep.
Those who feel they have to fight their body and feel motivated in the morning just to hit the gym should definitely consider afternoons or evening exercises. If your body is already awake then the extra effort of dragging it to the treadmill dissipates and it’s just a question of motivation.
But whether you’re a night owl or a early bird, hit the gym and get your blood pumping. You’ll be happy you did.