For some people, a morning sprint is as essential as a cup of coffee. For others, an evening at the gym is a way to sweat out the day’s stresses. But is one really better than the other? The short answer is yes and no.
While research suggests that a morning workout routine brings in the widest range of benefits, the reality is that morning and evening exercises have their own set of perks.
A morning workout routine helps you kickstart your day and gives you a better sense of focus, but your body functions at its most optimal level later in the day. This means your athletic performance and endurance will likely be higher when you’re working out in the evening.
But both also come with a different set of demands. One requires you to wake up earlier, while the other asks you to sacrifice your social life. Determining the best time of day to workout then becomes simple: it’s the routine that works best for you and your schedule. After all, neither is effective if you can’t be consistent.
To understand which workout is the ideal fit for you, let’s break down the pros of a morning workout vs. evening workout.
The Case for Morning Workouts
1. You’ll have more energy throughout the day. Waking up early might seem like a drag if you’re not a morning person, but if you’re an early riser, a morning workout routine can kick your day into gear.
Exercising in the morning, when you’re in a fasted state, can also be more effective at burning stored fat faster. This is because when you exercise in the mornings on an empty stomach, your body uses fat for fuel instead of carbs.
2. A morning workout routine frees you up for the rest of the day. We all have excuses for why we can’t work out. When you’re armed with excuses, it becomes easy to lose sight of fitness goals and choose inactivity instead.
But establishing a steady morning workout routine can help you stay consistent simply because you manage to get it out of the way early on. Whether you want to go for an after-work drink or lie in bed watching Netflix, working out in the morning gives you the freedom to say yes to things you want to do.
3. Work out in peace. Evenings are usually peak workout times. Everybody is at the gym, and you’re bound to feel self-conscious when someone’s standing behind the shoulder press machine you’re using, waiting for their turn.
By contrast, a morning workout routine helps you maximize your workouts by giving you the freedom to take your time. Want to push yourself and do one more set of hanging leg raises? Go for it because nobody else is waiting.
The Case for Evening Workouts
1. It may be more convenient. If you can’t stand the idea of waking up at 5 a.m. to go for a run, don’t force yourself to do it.
When you despise the idea of exercising early, a morning workout routine could impact your athletic performance and leave you feeling less motivated to stick to your fitness regimen.
For many people, an evening workout is also the most convenient option. You can have a more relaxed morning, you don’t have to worry about rushing to work after the gym, and you can go home to unwind right after your workout.
2. You’ll be more energetic. When you exercise later in the day, you have a lot of stored up energy that you can expend.
Part of the reason for this is because you will have eaten a few meals throughout the day, which gives you enough strength and endurance to get through even the most challenging workouts. Your mind is also more alert during an evening workout, which means you’re less likely to injure yourself.
3. Destress after a long day. Nothing can take your mind off a difficult day the way exercise can. In many instances, an evening workout gives you the motivation to push yourself and your body to achieve more, which can get you on the fast-track to meeting your fitness goals.
But What About Sleep?
A morning workout routine is commonly believed to promote better sleep, but recent studies have challenged that notion. Findings from 2020 and 2019 have shown that working out in the evening doesn’t have any impact on sleep, but the intensity of the workout does.
For example, if you like to plan your workouts for the week in advance, save HIIT exercises, heavy weightlifting, and intensive cardio training for your morning workout routine. To work out in the evening and still enjoy uninterrupted sleep, stick to lower- or moderate-intensity exercises, such as yoga, pilates, walking, or light weightlifting.
In case a morning workout routine just doesn’t fit into your schedule, you can still do high-intensity exercises as long as you time it properly. The key is to work out at least a few hours before bedtime so that your body has enough time to cool down.
To ensure you get quality sleep after your workouts, invest in the best mattress. A memory foam mattress and a hybrid mattress are both good choices because they’re designed to alleviate any aches, pains, or muscle soreness you might experience after vigorous exercise.
In general, regular exercise is known to promote better sleep by reducing anxiety and stress levels. At the end of the day, there’s no bad time to exercise, regardless of whether you prefer a morning workout routine or not. All that matters is that you find the time to work out and stay consistent.
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