Finding time to work out is difficult—especially with a busy work schedule. I love working out in the morning: It makes me feel accomplished and happy, and I’m more likely to continue to make healthy choices for the rest of the day. But because I can’t bring myself to knowingly subtract hours from my nightly beauty sleep, I’ve tried to hit up some classes in the evening. I don’t know what it is, but post-work exercise is harder for me to deal with. It feels like I’ve already been defeated by the day, and I can’t get into it. Ultimately, it leaves me feeling less accomplished than time spent at the gym in the a.m. Clearly, I’m at a standstill. So much so that I’ve pretty much stopped working out all together.
Naturally, this got me thinking: Does it actually matter what time of day you work out? Or perhaps this is a problem just for me. So, I had an expert weigh in.
Dempsey Marks explains: “Recent studies show that exercise is good and necessary no matter what time of day you choose to workout. But if you want to reap the most out of your workouts, you should roll out of bed early. Start your day with any type of exercise in order to get your metabolism going. You maximize the benefits of your workout because you will burn calories all day long. Anaerobic exercise like weight workouts will stoke the flames longer. Just 15 minutes of morning exercise will make a difference!"
Meet the Expert
Dempsey Marks is a fitness expert, yoga instructor, and co-creator of PreGame Fit fitness. She has been featured on Access Hollywood, and in The Huffington Post, and People magazine.
So it is true that you may get better results in the morning. Some studies show that exercise can curb the appetite and keep you from overeating afterward. Plus, morning classes are usually less crowded and less likely to conflict with other responsibilities that may pop up after work.
That being said, consistency is key. If you can’t make it to the gym until after work, your body can adapt to your schedule and work at a higher level during those times, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. So if you work out every day at 5:30 p.m., your body learns to be most efficient at that time, as long you continue to keep the schedule.
Moreover, a study done in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports concludes your body’s core temperature is vital in determining the quality of exercise. Because body temperature increases throughout the day, you may be less susceptible to injury and at your most flexible during the afternoon.
So the bottom line is this: It’s totally up to you. There are reasons why working out in the morning is really good for you, but there’s also evidence that afternoon and evening sweat sessions are great, too. Make sure to exercise often, stretch beforehand, and keep a healthy diet throughout the day and you’ll be good to go—no matter your schedule.
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Chtourou H, Souissi N. The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(7):1984‐2005. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825770a7
Racinais S. Different effects of heat exposure upon exercise performance in the morning and afternoon. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010;20 Suppl 3:80‐89. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01212.x