Questioning the best time to do cardio is like questioning when to take your vitamins. Although there are benefits to both times, in general, the best time is whenever you do it. The right time is based not on science but on your ability to fit it into your schedule. A few precautions should be considered if you have certain health conditions, but your cardio exercise schedule should be based on whatever works best for you.
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One of the main reasons some people prefer to do cardio in the morning is the significant impact it has on the rest of their day. A high energy run or bike ride before work is just the boost some people need to keep the momentum going at the office. Some also find that if they work out in the morning they make healthier food choices throughout the day. Studies show that individuals who exercise in the morning are more likely to be consistent with their workouts than if they exercise at any other time of day. Another incentive for a morning cardio workout is the reality that most gyms are slightly less busy at that time.
For those who find it tough to simply get out of bed in the morning, evening cardio has its advantages. The body is fully awake from a full day of activities so warming up takes less time. Your body’s temperature naturally increases a few degrees by the evening, resulting in warmer muscles and a slight increase in your performance. Since you won't have to rush off to work, you're more likely to devote more quality time to your workout. Exercising in the evening also curbs your cravings, so you’ll be less likely to snack before bed. Besides, you're in the gym instead of watching prime time television as a couch potato, which means those snacks might not even be on your mind. Working out in the evening gives you an opportunity to relax and clear your head from the busy day. Doing cardio at night, however, might interfere with sleep, so try to make your workout end at least an hour before bedtime.
Important Items to Consider
It is important to fuel your body before your cardio workout. For those exercising in the morning, this might be a challenge. Consider eating half of your breakfast before the workout and half afterwards. Even a small amount of food is better than nothing. In the evening, consider eating a small snack rather than a large dinner before your cardio. You will feel better and have more energy during your workout if you are not hungry. Whether doing cardio in the early morning or evening, if you are outside make sure you wear appropriate reflective gear and watch out for traffic.
Minimize the amount of times you do back-to-back cardio. That is, evening cardio and then morning cardio the next day. Try to give your body at least 12 hours to recuperate and repair the muscles affected during the cardio workout. Check with your doctor before starting a new workout routine. Everybody is different and each person has specific needs.