Early birds can never seem to say enough about the joys of morning exercise. But if you’re not a morning person, waking up an extra hour and a half earlier sounds not only like torture, but also physically impossible.
So is it just a matter of personal preference, or are there physical and psychological benefits to exercising at a particular time of day?
Receiving that metabolic boost during the morning or the evening will not make a difference when it comes to caloric expenditure or body composition adjustments. The most important takeaway is that people should be focused on exercising in general and worry less about the time of day. Metabolic adaptations will occur regardless of whether the sun is rising or setting.
But there are pros and cons specific to early bird exercisers and night owl gym enthusiasts. Read on:
Pros of Morning Exercise
- You’ll feel more energized. Depending on how stressful your job is, both physically and mentally, working all day and then going in to the gym may be unrealistic. If you find that you can never muster up the energy to work out at night, try working out in the morning before work. That way you won’t have used up all of your energy.
- You can burn fat fast. If you work out in the morning before eating or after eating just a protein bar, you will get greater results.
- There’s also the psychological boost. The psychological benefits of morning workouts are paramount. You clear your mind and give yourself positive energy for the entire day. Most Fortune 500 CEOs workout in the morning for this reason.
Con of Morning Exercise
Increased Risk of Injury. A more thorough warmup will be needed in the morning, especially if you’ll be using resistance training exercises where you’re bending back for morning exercisers. So for the early exerciser who likes to hit the weights hard, getting up even earlier to ensure spinal health is important.
Pros of Evening Exercise
- You’re more physically prepared. You’ll likely have more food in your system. All this contributes to the potential to use heavier weights and do more repetitions, which will lead to more calories burned during and after the session.
- It allows for lengthier sessions. Longer warm ups, greater rest periods to allow for substrate replenishment, time to decompress, de-stress, and socialize with training partners.
- It’s safer for power and strength workouts. Many of the fitness experts agree that explosive exercises–like power cleans or squats–should be performed in the evening.
Con of Evening Exercise
Potential Sleep Disruption: Exercise, like any other stressor, increases cortisol levels. Cortisol revs your body up–raises blood pressure, increases alertness, etc. Exercising in the evening makes your cortisol spike at a time when your cortisol levels should be declining. This can interfere with sleep patterns.
So, keep all of these things in mind before you decide what time to do your workout. Whatever time you can fit in a work out is the best time to work out.