Evening workouts also make the most of our physical attributes. “Evenings tend to maximise physical performance,” says Dr Glazer. “Core temperature and cardiovascular function peak around 6 pm, enabling greater strength, speed and stamina. For hardcore athletes prioritising gains and PRs, training after work makes physiological sense.”
This ramping up of your body’s physicality could pay dividends for weight loss. “Some research indicates increased fat burning specifically for male bodies when exercise occurs in the evening hours,” adds Derrick. “This may relate to circadian rhythms and the body’s natural hormone fluctuations over the daily cycle.”
Dr Glazer warns against pushing your workout too late however, as the extra energy could have you tossing and turning in bed: “Exercising within two hours of bedtime can make falling and staying asleep tougher for some. The cognitive stimulation and adrenaline surge keep brains wired awake longer.” Skinner adds her own note of caution, saying that “it’s best to avoid working out immediately before you sleep, but other evening times could work, allowing you some time to wind down before sleeping.”
Morning vs evening workout: which is better?
For more focus and energy throughout the day, or to lose some weight, a morning session is well-suited. For improving your strength and stamina, you’ll probably see better results if you nip to the gym in the evening. That’s just a jumping-off point, however: pretty much any exercise is going to do you good, no matter the time of day. The benefits of morning and evening workouts are myriad and varied, depending on who you are and your lifestyle.
The buzzword each of the experts returned to time and again was consistency. “I’ve seen how both morning and evening sessions can work magic – if you’re consistent, that is,” says Daniel Richter, certified personal trainer and founder of Strength Log. “Most important is picking a time you know you won’t fall off the wagon with.”
Will Kennard, strength coach and founder of Strongly, is a promoter of finding your own balance to see the most efficient results: “The time of day you work out matters far less than the quality of your workout and how frequently you’re working out. Picking the time of day that works best for you and when you feel your best will have massively more impact than trying to shoehorn workouts in around circadian rhythms.”
Skinner whips out a wildcard in the debate: the afternoon workout. “Afternoon workouts have plenty of benefits. Once you’ve had a few meals and completed some work for the day, you might feel more physically and mentally ready to tackle a workout.
“An afternoon stretch can also be great if you’ve been at a desk all morning – we know from research that keeping your body mobile and moving has numerous benefits for long-term health. If you’re working from home, you might also feel the benefits of breaking up your working day with a workout or fitness class.”
Find what works for you and stick at it, keeping in mind your personal fitness goals. And remember: being fit and healthy is about more than forcing yourself out of bed or cutting short your Netflix marathon. It’s a result of choices you make every day, be that better food, more quality sleep, less stress or drinking more water (you should drink more water).
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