1 May 2008

When is the perfect time to exercise?

What time of day is the best to exercise? For most of the people I know, finding time to exercise at all can be a challenge so I think restricting yourself to a particular time slot can be a real problem.

Let's get the myth out of the way first.

Morning Exercise is the Most Effective

Some people believe that working out first thing in the morning is best....but only if you're a morning person. If you aim to workout first thing but you know you’re terrible at getting out of bed then the pressure of missing your slot can leave you feeling miserable and dejected, often so much so that you don’t get around to exercising at all that day. Fat doesn't burn at twice the rate in the morning and muscles don't appear more pronounced then either.

As for the rest of the day..
Lunchtime Run
Others favour the lunch time workout because you get it done without having to get up at 6 and its over by the end of your working day. Its super convenient but time restrictive.

End of the Day / After Work
Probably the most common time of day for gym visits and many consider this the optimum time to exercise when everything else is done and out of the way. The only difficulty here is that for many people, ‘everything else’ is never done and so by the time they get around to thinking about their workout, it’s too late. There’s just time for something to eat and then bed.

The truth is that any workout is better than no workout and that an exercise session you can focus on without distraction will bring you greater results than any exercise session dictated by the hands of the clock. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your workout - whatever the time:

Morning workouts
When planning morning workouts, consider what you’re doing the night before. Obvious, but don't make it harder on yourself by going to bed really late as you'll only suffer when the alarm goes.

Make sure you drink some water and eat a little something before you exercise. Working out on an empty stomach does not bring optimum results. For the best early morning fat burn, eat a portion of fruit and drink a small cup of black coffee with a cup of water.

Lunchtime workouts
Squeezing these in can be difficult but is easier if you view a lunchtime session not as a distraction from your other commitments but as a way of setting yourself up to be more effective for the second half of the day.

Plan your morning snack, post workout snack and afternoon snack carefully on the days that you exercise as this will keep your energy levels high and save you time.

Evening workouts

If you plan to exercise in the evening you need to decide well in advance what time you want to be at the gym and then work backwards to establish when you need to finish work and how you need to structure your day in order to leave at that time. If you leave it too late, you'll end up having to leave it all together.

Time your evening session so that you can wind down afterwards. Ending your workout 90-120 minute before bedtime is great as the post-exercise cool-down matches the body cooling process prior to sleep so a quality workout will help you get a better sleep if you time it right.

Photograph by lyle58 (Flickr)

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