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Is It Better To Work Out In The Morning Or At Night?

Finding the time to work out is half the battle when it comes to keeping up with a fitness routine, and for better or for worse, that often means you get two choices: morning or evening. And while some people feel strongly about which way is right for them, the good news is that there’s no “best” time in general—just the one that’s best for you.

“I get this question all the time,” says Steve Ball, Ph.D., associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. “My answer? Any time is a good time to exercise. Find the time that works best for your schedule keeping in mind that lifetime fitness is achieved through consistency, not through working out at the perfect time. If any physiological differences exist, they are minimal and don’t outweigh personal preference.”

So, even though research has found some small differences between the calorie-burning and strength-building powers of working out at in the morning and working out at night, neither is necessarily better, and probably not worth basing your routine off of.

What is worth working your fitness habits around? Think about your schedule, when you feel the most energized, and how you get motivated. Here are eight things to consider when you’re deciding to set up a morning or evening workout grind.
Benefits Of Morning Workouts:
1. Exercise can give you an energy boost.
Some people (myself included) find that working out in the morning gives them all-day energy. This effect is, in part, a mental benefit, but endorphins are also released, explains Ball (and those bad boys can give your energy an instant boost). Plus, an change in body temperature can help wake you up. Pair a workout with coffee, and you’re well on your way to your most alert morning ever.

2. Life is less likely to get in the way of an early workout.
While chances of a 7 A.M. breakfast date are pretty slim, post-work happy hours or late nights at the office have a way of derailing evening workout plans. If you have an unpredictable schedule at night, morning workouts are probably less likely to get canceled. “There is some research that shows morning exercisers have increased adherence [to their workout routine],” says Ball. “If you exercise in the evening, life can often get in the way, and people tend to skip more often. Since consistency is a key to maintaining fitness, this [factor] shouldn’t be minimized.”

3. Gyms are often quieter in the morning, so you might have more space.
Hate waiting for a treadmill or a set of 15-pound dumbbells? Many gyms’ peak hours are right after the workday, according to Ball, so if the thought of working out in a crowded space stresses you out, earlier mornings might be a better bet. Try going at a few different times of day to feel out the situation, or ask your gym’s staff to see when the least busy times are.

4. You’re getting your workout over and done with and setting a healthy tone for your day.
If you dread the thought of going to the gym after a long workday, mornings might be a good option—this way, “your workout won’t hang over your head the entire day,” says celebrity fitness expert Lacey Stone of Lacey Stone Fitness. “And you will feel you accomplished something before you even go into work.” By getting your workout in early, that’s one less thing you have to think about making time for later.

A potential drawback: Not everyone feels wired after a workout and for some people exercising first thing can leave them feeling drained during the day.
Benefits Of Evening Workouts:
1. You can work away the stress of a busy day at the office.
Exercise helps reduce stress and releases feel-good endorphins, so sweating it out after a crazy day can help you unwind. Plus, this can be especially useful if you tend to be a stress snacker at night, says Stone. “If you had a bad day at the office, working out will help you take out some of your anxieties and frustrations, rather than eating or drinking them.”

2. You don’t have to worry about getting ready in a busy locker room afterwards.
Working out in the morning often means having to pack your bag to get ready before work (or building in time to go all the way home first)—and if your gym is busy, you may find yourself bumping into everyone else who has the same idea. If you work out in the evening, “you don’t have to stress about finding a shower or blow drying your hair with 10,000 other people in the bathroom. You can workout and go home,” says Stone. (Even though I’m a morning exerciser, this sounds like a huge perk.)

3. You’re probably already fueled up and ready to go.
“If you’re not accustomed to working out on an empty stomach, you might need to eat something [before a morning workout],” says Ball. If you work out in the evening, you can plan your workout around your existing snacks and meals, so you’re already ready to go. While not essential, a pre-workout snack might help you feel more fueled, so that means taking more time out of your morning (and possibly adding more calories to your day than you would normally have, which can derail your efforts if you’re trying to lose weight).

4. You may not need as long of a warm-up.
While a dynamic warm-up is an important part of a fitness routine no matter what time of day you work out, you might need a little more time in the morning to wake your body up than you do in the evening. “Simply put, you have been moving around all day versus laying still, so muscles are more ready for action in evening,” says Ball. Try the warm-up from this 30-minute workout.

A potential drawback: The energy kick you get from working out can be detrimental to your sleep if you exercise too close to bed time. Make sure to give yourself at least two hours to wind down before you hit the sheets.

Ultimately, it all comes down to when you have the most energy and what works best with your lifestyle. Not sure yet? “Start with a mix of morning and night,” suggests Ball. “If you are planning on working out four weekdays, go twice [in the morning] and twice in the evening. Find out what works for you and what you will stick with—that is the key.” Once you figure out what’s best for you, you can set up a consistent routine and start crushing your workouts day or night.

Article provided by self.com

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