Finding time to exercise can be difficult, especially with busy schedules. Take it from me. I’m a graduate student in a demanding Physical Therapy program and I can attest that finding the time to work out can be TOUGH. Somehow, despite all the long days, hours upon hours of studying, running errands, taking care of my dog, and trying to find time for family and friends, I managed to train for the NYC Marathon. Once I started training during my busy summer and fall semesters, I quickly realized that I may have been in over my head. When was I going to find time to run all the miles and train properly? For me, my saving grace was early morning workouts. If that weren’t an option, I would find myself squeezing in my runs between classes. Either way, I managed to find the time to get it done.
While I’m personally team early bird, I know that many people prefer those nighttime workouts. So, that begs the question, when is the best time to work out, the morning or the evening? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits each has to offer.
Team Early Birds
1. You’re more likely to stick to a morning routine.
Getting into the rhythm of working out in the morning could help you stick to a routine. Starting your day off early and getting your workout out of the way means you won’t find yourself making excuses to skip it after a long day!
2. You’ll improve your quality of sleep
You’ve probably heard that a good diet and exercise regime can help improve sleep quality. Studies have shown that working out in the morning can help improve sleep quality at night compared to evening workouts. Why? Exercise increases your body temperature and heart rate, so exercising at night could affect your ability to sleep. Also, establishing that AM workout routine could alter your circadian rhythm, making you more alert in the morning and making it easier for you to fall asleep at night (insomnia’s the worst- am I right??). A good night’s sleep is not only crucial for your overall health, but it’s also great for muscle recovery!
3. Improved productivity and mood
Studies show that morning workouts can help improve one’s focus and alertness, leading to more productivity throughout the day. Not only will you be more productive, but you’ll be happier too! Your body releases endorphins in response to exercise. So, whether you’re chasing that runner’s high or pumping iron in the gym, these “happy hormones” can help elevate your mood. If you ask me, that’s a pretty great way to start the day!
4. Increased metabolism
Early morning workouts can help increase your metabolism throughout the day. Working out in the morning on an empty stomach can even help burn up even more stored fat!
5. You’ll make better diet choices
Not only will you feel accomplished after getting your workout done and over with before you start your day, but it can also motivate you to make better food choices during the day. Having said that, I’m definitely pro-treat yourself here and there!
Team Night Owls
1. Stress relief after a long day
Evening workouts are a great way to destress after a long day. I remember when I used to work a stressful desk job, I would count down the minutes until I could leave work and go for a run for some major stress relief. Running and exercising are great outlets if you need to blow off some steam- trust me!
2. Better physical performance
Exercising at night may result in better performance versus morning workouts. Why? Your core temperature increases throughout the day as opposed to the morning when it’s at its lowest. You also have improved muscle strength, flexibility, power output, and endurance in the evening compared to the morning.
3. Make it a Social Event
Exercising in the evening can be a great way to stay social. For example, several different running groups in the Hudson Valley organize weekly after-work group runs. Some of them are even fun beer runs! Who doesn’t love a nice cold beer after a run?
4. Your workouts may be longer
Working out in the evening may put you in less of a “time crunch” than morning workouts. If you’re pressing that snooze button all morning, you could risk losing time off your morning workout. By the time those evening workouts come, you may already be done with your day, so you won’t be rushing to get out of the gym. This gives you more time to get a better, longer exercise session in!
So who wins? Team Early Birds or Team Night Owls?
Both! Any workout is better than no workout at all. Everyone’s life and work/school schedules are so unique. All that matters is that you GET IT DONE, whatever time that may be. Your body and mind will thank you!