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Morning Versus Evening: What’s the Best Time to Exercise?

There are two kinds of people in this world: people who exercise at the crack of dawn before starting their day, and people who wouldn’t even dream of tying on those gym shoes until evening. Okay, so maybe there are some variations of this, like people who work out on their lunch break or people who don’t work out at all, but we’re going to keep it simple and discuss working out in the morning versus the evening and whether there’s a greater benefit to exercising at a specific time of the day.

The Bottom Line

We’re going to get right to the point here: there is no good evidence to suggest that working out at a certain time of day is more beneficial for everyone. Morning workouts have specific advantages, while exercising in the evening also has its perks; but if there’s one thing the experts agree on it’s this: the most important thing about working out is consistency. It doesn’t matter what time of day you do it, as long as you do it regularly.

That being said, we’re still going to break down the benefits of morning exercise versus evening exercise to help you decide which choice is best for you.

Benefits of Exercising in the Morning

  • As a general rule, research has shown that exercising in the morning leads to greater consistency. When you get your workout in right away, there is less of a chance that a stressful day, fatigue, or other plans will derail you from your routine.
  • Research has also shown that exercising in the morning can create a domino effect of healthy choices throughout the day. When you start your day with a workout, you’re more likely to eat a healthier breakfast, drink more water, and make the choices that keep you on track to reaching your goals.
  • If you’re hitting the gym to exercise, you may prefer the morning for your workout. Statistics shows that gyms are usually the busiest between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. Getting there in the morning means that you’ll have easier access to the gym equipment you need, and just a quieter scene, if that’s what you prefer.
  • People who work out in the morning tend to get more sleep than people who work out in the evening because the anticipation of an early wake-up call prompts them to go to bed sooner.

Benefits of Exercising in the Evening

  • Even if you’re a morning person, finding the strength to exercise first thing can be difficult. Research shows that people who work out in the evening tend to exercise at a greater intensity than people who work out in the morning. Evening exercisers also tend to be more alert, making accidents and injuries less likely.
  • Let’s face it, long days can be stressful and working out is a great tool to relieve that stress. Working out in the evening gives you time to release that stress in a healthy way, instead of hitting happy hour or turning to comfort foods.
  • According to research, workouts tend to be more effective when your body temperature is higher; whereas cold body temperatures leave muscles stiff and more susceptible to injury. Because body temperature naturally increases throughout the day, muscle strength and endurance tend to be better in the afternoon and evening.

Exercise Recommendations

Regardless of when you decide to exercise, you have to do it enough to reap the benefits. Of course, depending on your specific goals, you may have to work out harder or longer, or target specific muscle areas, but the American Heart Association set basic guidelines for everyone as a baseline: at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise; or at least 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise.

Ultimately, the choice on whether you exercise best in the morning or in the evening is yours. The most important thing is consistency, so choose whatever time allows you to stick to your routine. You can even change it up from day to day, as long as you get it done!