Depending on Your Health Goals, the Right Time to Work Out May Vary
While there are countless benefits of incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle, the time you do it could make a difference. Studies show early morning exercise can jump start your metabolism, while exercising too late into the evening could hinder your sleep. Depending on your health aspirations, working out at a specific time could be just the weapon you need to meet your goals.
Exercising for Weight Loss
If losing weight is your goal, waking up early may be the extra boost your workout needs. According to the American Council on Exercise, people who exercise in the early morning tend to be more consistent with their regimen. They also tend to stay active throughout the day, as opposed to those who hit the gym after work. Research shows that a 45 minute morning workout can actually make you less hungry for a huge breakfast, and can help curb your appetite long after your day’s begun.
Besides starting your morning with an extra dose of mood-boosting endorphins, early morning exercise may help you make healthier food choices throughout the day. In a 2012 study, participants who walked briskly for 45 minutes in the morning were less distracted by delicious-looking food photos compared to when they didn’t exercise at all.
If you choose the early morning route, be sure to get in a quick warm up. The body temperature is at its lowest when you wake, so to prevent injury, be sure to do dynamic stretching. Next, ease into a cardio exercise to engage your muscles and get your heart rate pumping.
In Praise of Afternoon Adrenaline
Individuals interested in strength training and power lifting may want to consider hitting the gym later in the day. Research shows the body is most responsive to exercise from 2 PM to 6 PM. During this time, the body reaches its highest temperature, making you feel stronger and more flexible (as much as 20 percent). The lungs also work their most efficiently at this time, allowing for longer endurance and tougher workouts. Oxygen uptake kinetics are faster during this time frame, allowing you to use your resources slower and more efficiently than in the morning.
Going to the gym in the late afternoon can also be beneficial to lovers of HIIT workouts, or high-intensity interval training. In the afternoon and evening, the body’s reaction time is at its best, making quick, agile movements easier.
Exercising Too Late
Note that even with the benefits of added strength, if you wait too late to exercise, it could affect your sleep. Because exercise raises the heart rate and body temperature, it gets your adrenaline pumping, making it harder to fall asleep. So while your muscles may feel tired, you’ll be mentally revved up – at least for an hour or so.
Regardless of the time you choose to sweat it out, the fact that you are is what really matters. As long as you can find a time that fits with your schedule that you can commit to, you’ll start to see results and enjoy the benefits of a healthy habit.
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