What is the best time of day to exercise?

What is the best time of day to work out?

Firstly, many thanks to Amber Renee Knight for her helpful fitness question! Remember, if you ever have any questions about your own health, fitness or nutrition it doesn’t matter whether you are a member of our outdoor fitness class community or a personal training client or neither, you don’t even need to live in Manchester, Stockport or Cheshire, just get on our facebook page and ask away and I’ll endeavour to get you a thorough response!

Let’s put things in perspective to start things off. If you are going from a situation of not training at all, then any time of day is better than no time of day!

One of the most common excuses given for not training and getting fit is not having enough time, but we all know that deep down, if we put ourselves first and make fitness a priority, we will make that time if we are serious about reaching our goals. In that sense, it’s about finding the time that suits you best! Just as we make time (or should make time) to eat and those patterns become a routine, the same can be said about fitness training! We have to make it part of our everyday lives. The best way to do this is to make sure you have a sensible and intelligent plan and most important of all, that you enjoy your fitness programme!

As people settle into these patterns, there is some research which suggests that the time we find to exercise becomes part of our daily cycle and thus part of our circadian rhythms. These rhythms determine and regulate our body temperature, metabolism, blood pressure and alertness (how many of you knew that?) They are said to be subject to environmental cues and fitness training would be one such cue. If you regularly train in the morning, then it is thought that you are getting your body used to training at that time! Thus, when you train at a time out of that routine, it is thought that you feel less strong as a result of it being outside of your circadian rhythm!

However, it is a much argued subject. The arguments and therefore research tend to focus on optimum body conditions such as body temperature and that research actually leans towards late afternoon being best for training, both in terms of strength, endurance and also prevention of injuries, due to our bodies being warmest at that time.

But taking that into consideration, those who train in the morning are more likely to continue with their fitness programmes! :)

The bottom line, luckily for all of us, is that the best time to exercise is answered by another question. When is the best time for YOU to train?

All of us are different so there is no right or wrong answer. If you are training in the morning though, a couple of personal James Clark tips –

  • A good, hard 16-20 minutes pre-breakfast can be fantastic for firing up the metabolism and forcing the body to metabolise fat whilst the body’s glycogen stores are diminished from sleep.
  • However, if you plan to go for a longer session, I’d recommend getting up a little earlier to at the very least get some food into the system to set  you up.
  • Remember, either way, to be well hydrated!
  • And try and get a good breakfast in (see nutrition guide) immediately after or atleast within an hour of waking. It really does lay the foundation for your metabolism for that day. Get your fire going!