THE BEST TIME OF DAY TO WORKOUT
Everything in life is about timing. We avoid drinking coffee too late in the day so as not to mess with our sleep; we leave our apartments at a specific time of day so we can catch the train on time; we avoid eating a big meal before exercising to ensure a speedy, productive workout session.
So it makes sense that as a fitness coach, I am often asked the following question: When is the best time of day to work out? Some people seem to bounce right out of bed in the morning, while others press the snooze button 25 times before deciding to get out of bed. Getting a root canal without anesthesia would seem more appealing than working out in the morning for that particular group of people.
So, is working out in the morning better than working out at night? Well, it depends on whom you ask—but in my professional opinion, you will personally reap more benefits with a workout first thing in the morning. Here are my top reasons why:
- When you exercise first thing in the morning, it gives your metabolic rate a boost.
Why is that important, you ask? Well, when your metabolic rate is kicking early on during the day, it allows you to burn more calories even when you are sitting at your desk. Is that cool or what? Your body then becomes a fat-burning factory.
- Working out releases endorphins.
They are often known as "the happy hormone," and an endorphin rush in the morning can set the tone for the day and leave you feeling happy all day long. So instead of finding ways to "get back" at your co-worker for embarrassing you in front of your boss or eating your leftover lunch, you’ll find that you're happier and more productive at work.
- Working out in the morning leads to better sleep at night.
Studies have shown that when people work out in the morning, they sleep better at night compared to later in the day (strenuous exercise right before bed doesn't exactly set the tone for a restful night!). Sleep is vital for a lot of reasons, but if weight loss is your goal, being well-rested helps you make better choices. If you're not getting quality sleep, it will affect hormones responsible for appetite, and as a result it will make you crave unhealthy foods.
- If you want to create a new habit, it's best done in the morning.
Cortisol isn't always a good thing, but when it comes to habit formation, it can really help. We learn new information more easily when our cortisol levels are heightened, and for most people that happens first thing in the morning. In fact, new research found that when a group of study participants was asked to conduct a hip stretch first thing in the morning versus late at night, they were a lot more likely to remember to do it without being reminded if they did it first thing in the morning.
All this being said, if someone comes to me and says, "That’s all fine and good, but the only time I have to work out is at night," my response is, "Go right ahead. I'd rather you work out at night than not at all." After all, a workout is a workout no matter what time of day. You do you.
- By Laurent Amzallag