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  • Writer's pictureDr Sjaan Gomersall

Is there a ‘best’ time of day to exercise?

One of the most common questions among exercisers is: is there a ‘best’ time of day to exercise? The truth is, the ‘best’ time to work out depends on various factors, including personal preference, lifestyle, and fitness goals. Let's explore the benefits of exercising at different times of the day to help you determine what might work best for you.

Morning Workouts

Exercising in the morning has its distinct advantages. Early workouts can help kickstart your metabolism and can also improve mental clarity and focus, setting a positive tone for the day ahead. Perhaps most importantly, consistency is often easier to maintain with morning workouts since they are less likely to be interrupted by daily tasks or unexpected events. Especially in Australian summers (or Queensland summer, spring and autumn!), morning exercisers also benefit from the cooler temperatures. But let’s be honest, it can be challenging to get up early and work out, especially if you're not a morning person and in the cooler months when it is darker.

Afternoon and Evening Workouts

For those who find mornings difficult, afternoon or evening workouts can be highly effective. Physical performance tends to peak in the late afternoon and early evening, with muscle strength, enzyme activity, and endurance all at their highest. Your body is more warmed up, reducing the risk of injury and potentially improving your performance on the bike or the bag.

Exercising later in the day can also serve as a great way to relieve stress accumulated from work or daily responsibilities. It’s also good to remember though that late-night workouts can interfere with sleep for some people, so it’s important to allow enough time to wind down before bed.

Personal Preference and Consistency

Ultimately, the best time to exercise is the time that you can do it! This is more likely if it fits into your lifestyle and your other competing demands. We recently finished a trial that randomly allocated about 100 people to either morning or evening exercise, and found that there was no difference in any of the benefits, the most important thing was showing up. 

Whether you’re an early bird who loves starting the day with a 5:30am spin with Caitlin, or a night owl who likes finishing their day with a ‘ride and a show’ with Scott, the key is to find what works for you and make it a habit. For most people, a time that you can stick to consistently is going to help, but sometimes life doesn’t work like that either. Personally, I am going through a phase where consistency is challenging because of my work, and my goal is to move once a day, wherever that might fit in the best.

So while there are physiological benefits to exercising at different times of the day, the best time to work out is when it is right for you. Consistency is the most crucial factor in achieving your fitness goals and getting the health benefits of moving your body, so choose a time that fits your schedule and keeps you motivated to stay active.





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