When it comes to working out, choosing between working out in the morning or at night can seem like a dilemma. Although there is no right answer — and just fitting in a workout is good in and of itself — certain exercises are better suited for the morning or evening, depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Certain workouts are more stimulating, which make sense to do at start of the day, while others can help you relax and unwind just in time for bed.
"I tell my clients that the best time of day for them to work out is the one that feels easiest and most natural to them," says Sarah Hays Coomer, NSCA-CPT to Bustle over email. "Some people really struggle to make time in the morning while others have no hope of making it happen in the evening. Depending on their personal biorhythms and work and family schedules, most people know which time of day is most doable."
However, if you have no preference, you can schedule your days with workouts that can help ease you into the start of your morning or exercises that can help wind you down at night. If you're trying to pick the best time to do a certain workout routine, consider the below guide for what to do in the morning or at night.
"If you prefer mornings, it's really important to warm up slowly because your muscles are stiff and cold from sleeping," says Coomer. "Make sure to do a gentle cardio warm-up to start, like walking or a gentle yoga flow series, before you do anything more intense like running or weight-lifting."
"I love to get outdoors in the morning to let the sunlight and air wake me up naturally," says Coomer. Exposure to light first thing in the morning can help regulate your circadian rhythms, which can help you feel naturally energized throughout the day and sleep better at night.
Riding your bike is another good way to get in some morning cardio while also enjoying the outdoors. Cardio in the morning is helpful to get your body energized, and combining it with an outdoor activity only amplifies the effects. Consider riding your bike to work instead of driving or taking the train.
4. Jogging Or Walking
It's best not to go for a full on sprint first thing in the morning, but an early stroll or light jog can help kickstart your metabolism and give you a positive boost for the day. Going for a quick run first thing in the morning can help lower your blood pressure, relieve stress, and increase your energy levels, according to Livestrong.
1. Weight Lifting
"Weights can be good at night because they fatigue your muscles before resting and recovery at bedtime," says Coomer. One study from the University of Southern Mississippi found that weight-training in the evening was more efficient for burning fat than in the morning. Lifting weights at night also gives your muscles time to repair while you are sleeping.
"At the end of an intense evening workout, I like to come full-circle back to some sort of low-key activity that can bring my energy down so I can sleep," says Coomer. "Yoga at sunset is fantastic and makes it very easy to sleep later." Choose a less dynamic yoga practice to help you wind down at night, or practice these poses that can help encourage slumber.
Much like yoga, pilates in the evening is a great way to unwind your body for sleep. Regularly practicing pilates can help improve your sleep, according to a study from Appalachian State University. This form of exercise is a great way to not only utilize your core, but destress from the day.
"I usually recommend sports for later in the day/evening, as they can be more time consuming and you really don't want to rush through these activities," says James Kilgallon, CSCS over email. Since many sport-like activities take place in the evening, it makes since that they would fit into your routine during this time. One study from the University of Chicago even found that people who vigorously exercised in the evening were more likely to attain a higher level of fitness than those who did their strenuous workouts in the morning.
"The bottom line is: to each [your] own!" says Coomer. "What matters is that we take care of our bodies in ways that make us feel energized and alive. For that, we need good nutrition, good sleep, and exercise at whatever time of day works."
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