Making time for regular workouts in your already jammed schedule can take some serious effort. And as it turns out, the time of day you pick for a sweat session can influence your overall success. By avoiding the worst times of day to go to the gym for your health, meeting those fitness goals might be easier than ever.
To be clear, though, the best time of day to work out varies tremendously from person to person. It would be great if some study could just tell everybody that 7:15 a.m. is the best time for any human to exercise, but the reality is more subtle and individualized. For many people, workout times are more determined by schedules and body clocks, and that's OK. "Most of all, find a time that helps you make your exercise a regular, consistent part of your life," said Aldana, a professor of lifestyle medicine at Brigham Young University, in WebMD. "This is more important than the time of day."
That said, there's probably an ideal workout time for you each day. By considering your schedule, sleep habits, and workout preferences, it's easy to figure out the best (and worst) times of day to hit the gym.
1. During The Evening Rush
For some people, crowded gyms are a huge deterrent. Waiting around for machines to open up can be annoying, after all. Fitness centers are often the most crowded from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., so you might want to work around those hours, according to Shape. Ask your gym for recommendations on the least busy times.
2. Super Late At Night
Those 24 hour gyms are handy, but leaving your exercise for the last part of the day does present some challenges. In particular, it's easier to skip a workout entirely if you're already burned out at the end of the day. "You just don't have the motivation to do it," said personal trainer Hugo Rivera in NBC News. "Your body just wants to go to bed." And often times it's so much easier to just skip the gym and go crash.
3. Right After Work
For people who have a desk job, hitting the gym right after work may present some challenges. "Tension and compression caused by sitting alter your body’s ability to move efficiently," said exercise physiologist Sue Hitzmann in Aaptiv Magazine. Jumping directly into exercise after sitting still for so long may even lead to injury. If it's otherwise the best time of day for your workout, however, just be sure to warm up thoroughly first.
4. Within A Few Hours Of Your Bedtime
Workouts can perk you up, which isn't the best news when you're going to sleep in a few hours. "Rigorous exercise naturally wakes your body up by boosting your heart rate," said certified personal trainer Caleb Backe in Aaptiv Magazine. "This can take several hours to wind down from." If you're already prone to insomnia, then approach those later workouts with caution.
5. Right After Lunch
Squeezing in a hard workout after a big lunch might not feel so great. "Don't exercise immediately following a meal," said Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer with the American Council on Exercise, in WebMD. "The blood that needs to go to your muscles is going to your digestive tract." But if that midday exercise is what works best, then just consider eating after your workout.
6. Extremely Early In The Morning
Sure, some people rise with the sun to go exercise. But if you're seriously not a morning person, then don't force yourself to exercise at dawn, as noted in the American Heart Association. Instead, visit the gym when your body is more alert. You're still getting in some movement, and that's what matters.
7. Morning In General
Night time is the right time for strength training, at least according to some experts. In fact, increased levels of cortisol might inhibit muscle growth in the mornings, but heightened testosterone levels in the evenings may increase it, as Heather Webb, a kinesiologist at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, explained in Self. Consider this a great reason to smack the snooze button in the morning.
8. When You First Wake Up
If you're super injury-averse, then consider working out later in the day. By the afternoon, the body has had time to warm up, leaving muscles more flexible, according to Greatist. With these considerations in mind, it's easier to pick a great time for your own workout.