Deciding on the best time to exercise and knowing when to work out may depend on a number of factors, such as whether or not you consider yourself a ‘morning person’ or ‘night owl’, your lifestyle and job, your body clock, and simply when you can find the time. However, according to science is there really a best time to workout, which made us think - should we be scheduling our workouts for a particular time of day to enhance our performance and results?
Many believe that early morning is the best time to exercise and love to squeeze in a spinning or gym session first thing, to get us in top shape for the day ahead. Getting up early to workout can create extra time for exercise and, for those who lead busy lives, it may be the only chance we have. Lots of people credit early in the morning as the best time to workout, for getting them ready for the day ahead, increasing productivity, energy levels and mental sharpness. Some believe it can also kickstart the metabolism to burn more calories throughout the day and promote more fat burning.
However getting up for a 6am run may not be the answer for everyone and if this is your idea of a nightmare you’re in luck! Some would argue against morning workouts, as if we exercise before eating, muscle (as well as desired fat) can be used as a source of fuel. Going to the gym early in the morning may not be the best time of day to exercise, as it can also make getting into an exercise routine difficult and harder to stick to if we aren’t ‘morning people’ and we may have less energy and put less effort into our workouts if we haven’t fully woken up yet! Morning exercise could also increase your chance of sustaining an injury, as we work out with cold muscles that haven’t yet warmed up.
On the other end of the spectrum, many people champion an evening sweat session as their best time to workout. Muscles are warm and flexible after being active all day, and some swear by an evening workout to make them relaxed and help get a better night's sleep. It can also be an excellent chance to de-stress after a busy day.
However, doing sport or activities late may not always tire us out and send us to sleep but can instead energise us, having the opposite effect. You may also not get the benefit of boosting your metabolism, which slows down as we sleep.
Some research shows from a physiological point of view, the afternoon may, in fact, be the best time to exercise. It is said to be the optimal time of day because body temperature is ideal and muscles are at peak strength. This means energy is heightened and the likelihood of injury is reduced. In fact, some studies even suggest exercise feels easier in the afternoon as perceived exertion is lower later in the day - what’s not to like about this! Training is also more convenient for some in the afternoon; it can be easier to motivate yourself to go and also find a buddy to accompany you. What’s more, an afternoon session can get rid of the stress that has built throughout the day and can also lower the amount of food we eat in the evening. The only downside - gyms tend to be busiest in the afternoon/evening, particularly around 5-6pm meaning there can often be a wait to use a machine which can disrupt the flow of your workout.
So when is the best time to workout?
While scientists may suggest that afternoon can be the best time of day to workout, increasing performance and results, it is safe to say that any workout is beneficial, and taking on sport or activities at any time of day should be encouraged. It is more important that you do a workout than when you workout. Ultimately you have to decide when is right for your body and lifestyle and if you have found a time that works for you then don’t change it. It is essential to be consistent with the time you choose to workout, as your body learns to adjust to this time and prepares itself, giving you energy. Your body will tell you when it’s happy to exercise and you will know when you are most productive in the gym.
No matter what time you choose to take on your next workout, make sure you've got the right kit to support you. Browse our latest range of women's activewear and get inspired to get out there and get active.