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According to science, this is the best time of day to exercise.

by Healthysecrets 3 months ago in fitness / wellness / weight loss / science / how to / health / diet / body / beauty / athletics
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According to science, this is the best time of day to exercise.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Finding time to exercise can be difficult, but the most important thing is to do as much as you can whenever you can. However, if you want to maximize the benefits of your workouts, you should try exercising in the morning.

Here's what science says about the best time of day to exercise — and what to expect if you go later.

1. Morning workouts are advantageous

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Working out first thing in the morning, particularly on an empty stomach, is the most effective way to burn stored fat, making it ideal for weight loss. According to Anthony Hackney, a professor in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, this is largely due to the body's hormonal composition in the morning being set up to support that goal.

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Even if you hate early alarms, working out first thing in the morning can quickly become second nature. A study published in 2019 in the Journal of Physiology found that exercising at 7 a.m. may shift your body clock earlier, meaning you’ll feel more alert in the morning and get tired earlier in the evening, potentially priming you to get enough rest to wake up and do the same thing the next day. Some research even suggests that it’s easier to stick to healthy habits completed in the morning.

A morning sweat may also lead to better mental health and productivity throughout the day, since exercise is great for reducing stress.

2. Afternoon workouts are nearly as beneficial.

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If you can fit in a lunchtime workout, Hackney says it's not a bad backup plan, especially if you're trying to do a long or rigorous routine.

An afternoon workout can also help you avoid a post-workout slump. The Journal of Physiology study discovered that exercising between 1 and 4 p.m. can shift your body clock forward in the same way that an early morning workout can. Even a short walk can help you wake up and refocus.

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According to one preliminary study published in 2018, your body naturally burns about 10% more calories in the late afternoon compared to the early morning and late night. The researchers examined bodies at rest, so they can't draw firm conclusions about what happens when people exercise, but it's possible that moving in the afternoon could burn a little extra energy.

3. Evening workouts have advantages

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Many people find it most convenient to exercise after work. However, there is a widespread belief that evening exercise makes it difficult to fall asleep later.

While the Journal of Physiology study found that exercising between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. delays the body clock, resulting in later bedtimes, Hackney is skeptical. "Evidence suggests that it doesn't interfere with your sleep pattern at all if you're not exercising, showering, and then [immediately] jumping in bed to go to sleep," he says. He adds that if done at night, a stress-relieving activity like yoga may even help you sleep better.

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While research on morning workouts and weight loss is more established, some evidence suggests that evening workouts can also help people lose weight. A study published in the journal Experimental Physiology in 2019 discovered that nighttime workouts do not interfere with sleep and, over time, can lower levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which may aid in weight loss or management.

The bottom line

Hackney says that if he had to choose the best time to exercise, it would be in the morning. Early workouts maximize your biology and psychology, potentially leading to better long-term results and adherence. But, as Hackney emphasizes, there is no such thing as a bad time to exercise, and the most important thing is to find a time that works for you.

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