Exercise is an important part of your health journey. It's part of your weight loss plan, it's the part that makes your fitter and stronger, grows your much-needed muscle, and increases your flexibility.
It makes you mentally and emotionally stronger too. Better mental and emotional strength translates into a better mindset. Consequently you eat better and better nutrition means better weight loss success.
So when should you exercise? Is there any time of day that may be better? It's a question that I often get asked? And really there's no one size fits all answer, and here's why:
Practical and logistical factors can influence when you exercise. Each type of exercise has it's own restrictions such as how much time you need for showering and eating afterwards, or coordinating schedules with an exercise partner, or fitting in with a training session or class times.
If you so to the gym, are there showers, particularly if you need to be fresh for business meetings after your training? Is there a convenient place to dress, do your hair, and apply makeup for the office after your workout?
If you’re a runner, when you run may hinge on how long it takes you to get ready for work in the morning, with family and other morning responsibilities, or how much energy you have left after a long day in meetings or behind a desk.
Another factor to consider is whether your neighbourhood is safe for evening or after-dark runs?
Or... is your gym a reasonable distance from home, or would you need to travel a long way after an exhausting day?
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY (I TALK ABOUT THIS A LOT!)
The practical considerations are all well and good, but they are only part of the whole picture. If you can easily fit in an hour’s workout before work, but then have no energy until the mid-morning, what seemed like a good idea at the time won’t translate to real world success.
This is why you need to listen to your body. Are you an early bird or a night owl? Do you mind rising before the sun each morning to exercise before work? When do you feel like you have the most energy? All this can make a big difference in the success of your exercise commitment.
Consistency is vitally important. For your exercise efforts to really pay off, you need to do it consistently.
If your work schedule is flexible, you may be able to choose your own best time to work out. If you’re committed to rigid office hours, the time of day you exercise will depend on when you can most often fit it in.
But most importantly, be consistent, once a week will not work.
HERE'S SOME SCIENCE TO CONSIDER
Can science help you make your decision? Maybe....
Some studies show significant benefits from morning exercise:
Other studies have highlighted the significant benefits of afternoon and evening exercise:
The take home? There’s no hard-and-fast right or wrong time for exercise. The best time is the time that works for you, both physically and mentally.
Choose a time of day that fits your schedule, your lifestyle and your personal rhythms: a time that allows you to not only be consistent, but to enjoy yourself.
After all, if you don’t have fun moving your body, strengthening your muscles, and increasing your stamina, you may not find time to do it at all.
I would love to hear from you - what exercise do you prefer? What gets you motivated to move? And when is YOUR best time to exercise? Tell me in the comments 😊
(adapted from Leslie Vandever's article on Australian Fitness Network - May 2016)
Click below to listen to a podcast episode I was interviewed for, about building resilience and my journey to being a Health Coach