A common question I get from my client’s is regarding what the best time of day is to exercise. As a general rule, I would tend to say that the answer is specific to the person and people should work out at a time which is convenient for them. Not everybody is passionate about fitness and finding time to exercise can be hard enough without someone telling you specifically what time of day is best to work out. Also, everybody is different so one person may feel at his or her best while working out first thing in the morning while another may like to work out at midnight. There really is no right or wrong answer, whatever will keep a person committed to the fitness program is the best way.
With that said and all things being equal, here are some pro’s and con’s to working out at the various times during the day:
Morning– On the plus side, working out in the morning means that you get it out-of the way and are not likely to have something come up which would cause you to miss the workout. A morning workout is also somewhat of a natural energy booster and many people report that their morning workout helps give them energy for the day. On the negative side, working out first thing in the morning can put a person at greater risk for a lower back injury so I wouldn’t recommend it to someone with a lower back problem. Also, it’s usually advisable to eat two hours before a workout and this is not practical for someone working out in the morning, so many people chose to exercise on little or no food. This means that we don’t have sufficient energy to perform at an optimal level.
Afternoon– On the plus side, studies have shown that afternoon workouts are the most efficient. It is around this time that we have the right balance of concentration, energy and alertness. The body is also sufficiently warm. It can also help to kickstart the rest of the day as many of us suffer from the mid afternoon crash. There aren’t really any negatives to working out in the afternoon outside of the fact that it may not be the most practical time to exercise.
Evening– One the plus side, an evening workout can serve as great stress relief after a long day. It is also efficient energetically if it is some time after lunch but before dinner as a person will have a good amount of energy for the workout. Evening workouts are also practical for those unable to work out in the morning. Some people, like me, like to work out in the evening because it tires you out for the night and can help with getting a good night of sleep. On the minus side, working out in the evening means that you have the entire day for something to come up and interfere with your workout. Also, for some, it may be hard to have an optimal amount of energy after a long day at work. Finally, there are some, unlike me, who are wired after a workout and an evening workout may result in them having trouble sleeping.
As I said before, the answer to this question is very person specific and there is no right or wrong time to work out. My best advice is do what fits best into your schedule and have fun.