This is a question we get asked a lot! The answer is simple enough on the surface. But, of course, there is more to consider to maximize the results from your efforts.
The best time to exercise is the best time for you to exercise. There is no one time that is best for all. Examination of several factors can help determine the right time for you. Two outcomes to consider in determining the best time to exercise are adhering to a workout schedule and optimizing physical results from each workout.
Where physical fitness fits into your life plays a role in workout compliance. If the demands of family, job or other commitments tend to bump workout sessions, early morning is the best time for you. Studies have shown that people that exercise in the mornings before other obligations are more consistent than those that exercise any other time of day.
Don’t Eat and Run
Human physiologists have determined that no single time of day changes the amount of work, or calories burned, based on the time of the workout. It is not advised, however, to work out immediately after eating. Blood supply is diverted to the stomach and gastrointestinal tract to digest a meal. Some of this blood is diverted to muscle during strenuous activity. This decreases the blood supply to muscle and slows digestion.
One Day at a Time
Diurnal rhythm is a consistently repeated sequence of biologic activity and recovery based on the rotation of the earth. There are many contributing factors that contribute to the overall patterns learned by the human body. Variations in sun exposure as with the season change, trained alteration of the cycle by nighttime alertness needs, perhaps for employment, various chronic drug ingestions can have a stimulatory or depressive effect on the rhythm. Also called circadian rhythm, this process integrates all of the input to create a general biologic clock of responses for each individual.
The Major Players
Three major inputs to diurnal rhythm are sunlight, melatonin, and cortisol. Sunlight has a well known effect on human physiology and emotions. Some people are so affected by length of day they have a condition called seasonal affective disorder. They experience endogenous depression as a result of diminished daylight.
Melatonin is a biochemical that is absent during wakefulness. It can be detected in body fluids about 30 minutes before sleep is induced. Melatonin metabolites are detected in varied amounts throughout early wakefulness after arousal.
Cortisol is the so called “stress” hormone. It is produced and released by a complex interaction between the adrenal glands, pituitary and other endocrine structures. It controls the release of stimulatory chemicals like adrenalin. It has been shown that release of stimulatory hormones decreases about a half hour before sleep and is resumed about a half hour before arising. For this reason, the highest rise in blood pressure occurs in early morning.
So you’re not a morning person. It takes forever to get going, three hits on the snooze alarm, two (four) cups of coffee and by mid day you’re up and running. You probably don’t metabolize melatonin well so it takes longer to clear.
If you’re up and out the door while everyone else is still asleep; maybe you have very sensitive adrenalin receptors. A cup of coffee may give you the jitters.
Studies show that for most people, optimal diurnal physiologic responses occur in late afternoon. The following time line represents the “average” physiologic diurnal events over a 24 hour period of time.
Get It While It’s Hot
An optimal time to engage in strenuous physical activity is when we are at higher body temperature. One target of warming up activities is to increase body temperature and metabolic rate. Diurnal averages suggest late afternoon body temperature maximums may be good time to exercise.
Exercise immediately before attempting to sleep may not be a good idea. Some of the stimulatory chemicals produced during strenuous activity take time to metabolize. An appropriate cool off period of a half an hour is usually sufficient. The effect of endorphin production then assists transition into restful sleep.
Are you accident prone? Studies show injuries are much less common in the afternoon.
Listening to your body’s biologic rhythms will help determine the best time to exercise. Pairing timing of workout sessions with optimal physiologic and emotional conditions will assist in positive outcomes. Both compliance with a workout routine schedule and optimal results from each workout can be affected by timing activity with diurnal rhythm.
Just Do It
What is the best time to exercise for you? Whenever you can do it is the best time. To accomplish the goals that lead to wellness and fitness, the work needs to be done consistently. There are other behavioral adaptations that can help some folks. Keep a gym bag packed and in the car. Eliminate one more excuse. Change the route to work to pass by a workout opportunity. Include the workout in the plan. Get a work out buddy. Make yourself the priority. If the engine isn’t maintained, the car will be unable to do its work effectively. Obligations cannot be well met if you are not in a good physical and mental place.
Once established, a routine becomes a habit. The physical benefits and improved wellbeing become evident and are self perpetuating. Try working out at different times. Give morning, noon and evening times a trial of a week each and see what feels better to you. Then create the healthy habit to your own best outcomes. Make wellness and fitness a habit!
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If you need help making fitness a habit, please give us a call at 888-872-7961 or click here: www.achieve-fitness.com.