Is It Better to Work Out in the Morning or Before Bed?

Young Man Running Up Stairs
The best time to work out is when you are most likely to be consistent. (Image: Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Some people swear by their 5 a.m. workout to get their blood pumping for the day. Others prefer to squeeze their sweat session in following a stressful work day. But is there a difference between morning or night workouts for optimum performance during your workout? It turns out your optimum workout time is based on your goals, the type of physical activity, your circadian rhythms and your exercise adherence.

Circadian Rhythms

Human sleep and wake cycles follow a 24-hour biochemical cycle called circadian rhythms. Your circadian rhythm influences body temperature, blood pressure and your hormones. All of these rhythms influence your body's readiness for physical activity. Your individual genes and environmental factors influence your circadian rhythm, making yours different from everyone else. Based on your own circadian rhythm, you can determine your optimal workout time. Try morning exercise for a couple weeks, then try evening exercise. Choose the time you can be most committed to and what makes you feel best afterward.

Morning Exercise

A study completed at Appalachian State University traced the sleep patterns and blood pressure of participants ages 40 to 60, who moderately exercised three times a week for 30 minutes. The volunteers performed morning, midday and evening workouts. Researchers found those who exercised in the morning experienced reduced blood pressure and slept longer, indicating that early-morning exercise has an effect on both blood pressure and sleep cycles.

Afternoon Execise

Increased performance is a major benefit associated with afternoon exercise, according to a 2009 study published in the "Journal of the International Society for Chronobiology." A group of cyclists worked out in the morning or night, and researchers found the evening cyclists had higher outputs. The study suggests that complex activities such as running, swimming or cycling are better done in the afternoon or evening.

Just Exercise

It is best not to worry about the time of day to exercise but to just exercise. Dr. Russel Pate, professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, stated the time of day is not as important as your consistency and the time you spend exercising. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise such as walking or a light jog. Sweat it out when it works for you.

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