The easing of the lockdown restrictions is accelerating, with gyms expected to open within a fortnight.
Many of us haven’t been in our cherished gym for four months. Soon we'll be heading to the gym floor or our old classes with a renewed vigour and a steely determination to establish a routine to get us back into shape.
A question that many of us ask ourselves when we’re energised to get fit is when is the best time to workout? Is it best to be an early lark or a night owl?
Should we all rise with the dawn and storm through a session before the rest of the world awakes? Or is it better to refresh the brain (and body) after a long day at work?
We know from the world of social media that there are some very keen early risers. Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson works out long before the cock's crow at 4.30am, whilst Mark Wahlberg has been known to rise as early as 3.30am to home gym.
They say the early bird always gets the worm, but in the case of workouts, that isn’t necessarily true.
Here are some thoughts to consider when deciding when’s best to work out.
Feel Good Factor
Exercise is good for mood. Period. The question is when you want to get the uplift. Endorphins released from a morning workout can set a positive tone to your day. The wake-up and energy boost you get is likened to your first cup of coffee. Alternatively, after a long and rough day at the office, a workout can have a beneficial effect for de-stressing when you come to unwind and relax in the evening.
When You're Ready
When you first wake-up, your body is fresh and prepared for a workout. This is because during sleep the body regenerates itself as muscles repair and food converts into energy. If you have slept well. a morning run may be on the cards, although first thing the limbs may feel a little stiff and it may be difficult to get going. If you wait to the evening, you’ll have stretched out your limbs by walking around all day and will feel generally more active.
If you want to burn fat and lose calories, the morning run may be the best option. According to British Journal of Nutrition Study, if you do your cardio at the crack of dawn you'll burn 20% more fat. This is because morning workouts rev up the metabolism and jumpstart your body’s internal furnace to burn stronger all day. In addition, people who exercise in the morning are more likely to make healthy food choices because subconsciously they want to build upon the healthy way they started their day.
Research shows that people tend to perform better in anaerobic activities, like running or weight training, later in the day. It’s believed this is down to the body’s core temperature peaking in the early evening which in turn makes anaerobic capacity about 7% higher. Studies also highlight that a late afternoon or evening sweat session is associated with greater reaction times and better endurance.
If you do a morning run you get it out of the way. Unless you’ve had a bad sleep or a grenade of a work email, you should have the green light to proceed. If you leave the gym to the afternoon or evening the danger is it may never happen. A lot of things in life demand our attention and it’s too easy to de-prioritise training as the day picks up. Studies show early birds in the gym are the more consistent.
The bottom line is that the best time for a workout is whenever you can fit it into your crazy schedule. While research supports both morning and evening workouts, your best bet is to pick a routine that you can stick with, whilst aligning twith your long-term fitness goals.
For example, a morning workout requires a nutritious dinner, a more rigorous warm-up, and lots of sleep, while evening exercises require you to fuel right throughout the day, and to make sure parties or other social events don’t interfere with your gym date. If you feel like you’d fit into one category more than the other, then that’s most likely the better option for you.
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Written by Matthew Sweeney