Is it Better to Work Out in the Morning or Night?
If you’ve ever done a quick search to figure out the best time to work out, you’ll know that the advice on this topic is inconsistent. Some people swear by morning workouts, while others insist evening workouts are the way to go. It’s true that there are benefits and drawbacks to both, and it will largely depend on your lifestyle and fitness goals. But which side does the research favor?
In this article, we’ll look at how different times of day affect your workout and how best to maximize your results. We’ll cover:
If you’re the jump-out-of-bed-and-seize-the-day sort of person, then morning workouts may be perfect for you. Even if you don’t have the time to work out bright and early, you may opt for a late morning workout instead. Whichever your preference is, daytime workouts can offer a list of benefits that may sway even the most adamant night owls.
Even though early workouts have a number of advantages, they come with their own set of drawbacks. As we’ll see, exercising in the morning can take some adjustment.
Benefits of a Morning Workout
You’ve likely heard all sorts of benefits of waking up before the sun. Here are some of the benefits you can reap from starting your workout a little early:
Develop a Consistent Routine
If working out is one of the first things you do when you wake up, you’ll be less likely to get distracted by the events of the day that may derail your workout plan. There are an endless number of ways in which responsibilities that crop up during the day can sidetrack you. From work to family to social engagements, finding time during the day for a sweat session can be a challenge.
Getting a morning workout in means you’ve already checked that box before your day becomes hectic. It’ll leave fewer chances for you to make up excuses throughout the day about how you didn’t have time because *insert excuse* came up.
Improve Your Sleep Cycle
If you’re not an early bird, waking up before you absolutely need to may be a bit of a drag; however, there are studies that suggest early morning exercises can help you fall asleep more easily at night so that morning workouts become easier over time. A morning exercise habit can shift your circadian rhythm, helping your body stay more alert in the morning and more tired in the evening.
In addition to helping you establish a more stable sleep routine, early birds also benefit from improved sleep. Research suggests that morning workouts boost deep sleep, helping you feel more rested when you’re awake. Not to mention, sleep helps facilitate muscle growth. This means that the better your quality of sleep, the more results you’ll see from your exercise.
Start Your Day on a Positive Note
Morning workouts are a great way to start your day on a high note. The endorphins that your body produces in response to exercise can last much longer than the time it takes you to workout. This will help you begin your day with a positive and happy outlook. Also, the sense of accomplishment you'll feel after finishing a workout first thing in the morning will inspire you to maintain that level of productivity throughout your day.
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Early morning workouts can be an excellent habit to develop, but they do come with some limitations. Here are some of the downsides of daytime workouts:
Waking up tired is a given for most people, but if you didn’t eat properly the night before, you may wake up feeling weak. Even if you’re not hungry right off the bat, the hunger may hit mid-workout, making it difficult to power through.
With that said, if you’re someone who wakes up hungry or is habitually hungry in the morning, it’s possible to be proactive about this. You can preemptively ward off the mid-workout hunger pangs by eating something high in protein before you hit the hay or fueling yourself with a snack, like a banana or an apple with peanut butter, about 20-30 minutes before your workout.
Lower Exercise Performance
Most people don’t roll out of bed nimble and ready to run a 10k marathon. It’s normal to wake up with some stiffness in your joints. This makes dynamic stretching before working out all the more vital, especially for avoiding exercise-related injury.
You’ll loosen up and gain some flexibility as you warm up, but you may not be able to hit your peak performance level until later in the evening.
Longer Warm-up Time
Speaking of warming up, morning workouts can be less effective especially because your core body temperature is lower earlier in the day. In the morning you’ll have to ease into your workout a little more gently than you would in an evening workout. Your resting heart rate may be slower in the morning, which contributes to your need to warm up a little longer before you get your workout underway to achieve maximum results.
Exercising first thing in the morning isn’t for everyone. Some don’t have the time to fit a workout in, even if they’re working out at home. Others find it more enjoyable and feasible to exercise later in the day.
With that said, there are also a couple of downsides to exercising late. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of evening workouts to help you decide which option you are better suited for.
Our bodies go through physiological modifications as the day progresses in answer to our daily demands. Among other benefits, these bodily adjustments allow us to reap a greater reward if we wait to work out toward the end of the day. Some of the advantages of evening workouts are:
It’s common knowledge that working out is a healthy form of stress relief and can help reduce anxiety and tension. This is especially true of evening exercise. When the pressures of the day add up and begin to feel overwhelming, it can be incredibly satisfying to get your blood pumping and blow off some steam.
What better, more therapeutic way is there to deal with mental and emotional fluctuations than to rekindle your mind-body connection and burn some extra calories while you're at it?
Improved Physical Performance
Research suggests that you’re more likely to perform better later in the day compared to first thing in the morning. When you exercise in the evening, you consume less oxygen (meaning less energy) for the same intensity workout. For instance, if you go for a run in the morning, you may reach exhaustion quicker than if you go on the same run in the evening.
Increased Hormone Production
When it comes to building muscle mass, testosterone is important for both men and women. According to research, your body is more likely to produce higher levels of testosterone in the evening as opposed to the morning.
Despite the many benefits of working out in the evening, there are some pitfalls that may cause you to consider rescheduling your workout for earlier in the day. Some of the disadvantages to exercising in the evening include:
Interfere With Sleep
The common adage that working out at night is harmful to sleep is not true in all cases. In fact, researchers have concluded that certain evening exercises can actually have a positive effect on overall sleep quality. This includes workouts that help stimulate sleep like yoga and stretching. There are some exercises, however, that may increase your energy level, making you somewhat jittery–HIIT is one example. These kinds of workouts might be better left for earlier in the day.
Difficulties With Consistency
Remaining consistent with your workouts is something that’s difficult to achieve regardless of when you choose to exercise; however, it may be easier to establish a stable routine if you get your workouts done and out of the way in the morning. Responsibilities accumulate as the day progresses, so you may have a hard time carving out some time or finding the motivation to work out if you wait. Also, by the time you’ve completed all of your tasks for the day, you may feel too drained to work out.
lululemon Studio has workouts that are as short as 5 minutes, meaning you can squeeze a workout in at any time during the day. Whether you’re into boxing, dance, or yoga, lululemon Studio has workouts that are tailored for every fitness level and category.
Rather than viewing one as more or less optimal than the other, you might want to reframe your question by considering the goal you’re trying to achieve and what your schedule looks like. This will better help you decide your ideal workout time. For instance, if your main objective is to keep a consistent routine and you know you get tired after work, then you may find morning workouts the better option. If your days are packed and you need a stress reliever after work, evening workouts may be more beneficial.
Not to resort to clichés, but it must be said that the best time to work out is when you can. What’s more important than specific timing is being able to find the time at all. Not everyone has room in their schedules for a 90-minute workout every morning. Not to mention, people’s schedules change all the time so it can be difficult to block off the same time every day to work out. Your workout schedule has to make sense to you.
Is There a Perfect Time?
No matter what time you choose to work out, it’s important to remember that consistency is the ultimate goal. That means that whether you rise with the sun and like to get active bright and early or you like to wait until your schedule frees up in the latter part of the day, scheduling regular workouts is a victory regardless. The fact of the matter is that people who work out on a consistent basis see better results—whether that means losing weight or improving their overall health. The most important takeaway is to find a time that you can sustain because the perfect time is the best time for you.
Finding time to work out may be a challenge but with lululemon Studio, working out is easier and more convenient than ever. Bring workouts into your home and eliminate the stress of trying to find time to go to the gym.
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