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Ask Bob Greene's Team: What's the Best Time of Day to Work Out?
If you have a question, send it to us!
Q: What's the best time of day to work out?
A: We asked Michelle Kennedy, M.S., Best Life fitness expert, to answer this question. "It depends on your moods, energy level, work schedule, and family and personal obligations." Read Kennedy's advice to find out what time works best for you:
Are you a night person who just signed up for sunrise cycling sessions?
If you can never seem to get going until after lunch, it's probably not a good idea to commit to a 6 a.m. spin class. The first time you miss that morning workout, you'll feel like you just blew the whole day, and it will sap your motivation. Likewise, if you tend to hit a slump around 4 p.m., it's going to be hard to get yourself to do anything at that time, never mind something challenging that will get your heart rate up. I believe that you should make every effort to schedule your workout for the time of day when you feel in your physical prime.
Of course, your work schedule might force you to override your natural rhythms. Those on the night shift, for example, should try to avoid intense physical activity close to bedtime (especially since you're already sleeping at odd times). Here are more success strategies for making healthy living compatible with unconventional schedules. If you're a morning person but you've got a lot of breakfast meetings, then pick an evening time slot or class, and stick to it. When you have a regular fitness appointment, you schedule the rest of your life around your workout instead of trying to fit your workout into your life.
Even if you're not a morning person, there are good reasons why many of my clients prefer to work out first thing:
If your main goal is weight loss, research has shown that any amount of movement you can do is better than nothing--even accomplishing 10,000 steps a day has led to weight loss for people without structured exercise programs. Find more ways to schedule fitness into a busy day.
If you're training for a competition or want to consistently improve your fitness level, on the other hand, might want to save your hard training for the afternoon. I've seen research that says that our body temperature peaks in the late afternoon/early evening, which means your muscles will be better warmed up, you'll feel slightly stronger and more flexible, and your endurance capacity for tough workouts may be higher.
One more thing for those who want to pump up their fitness level: Ever notice how there are sessions when everything just seems to click, and others during which you feel like you're dragging through quicksand? If you work out at the same time of day, your energy level and general preparedness should be the same from day to day. Because you're starting from the same baseline, it should be easier for you to figure out the change that's affecting your performance: Are you tired? Hungry? Emotionally exhausted from work? From a late night?
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