This has been a subject that has been researched and debated extensively amongst exercise physiologists. There are pro and cons regardless of the time of day that you choose to exercise but the most important fact is that you choose to exercise.
The Early Risers
While it generally requires a little bit of extra commitment and preparation, that is, waking up early and not slamming the “snooze” button or having your gym bag ready to go the night before; there have been many studies that have showed significant benefits of working up a sweat first thing in the morning. This has been especially so regarding those looking for fat loss as during the night your body has consumed all the available carbohydrates or sugars and hence has to resort to burning fat to fuel the early morning workouts. It is important to note for those looking to gain muscle that working out on an empty stomach is not recommended as you ultimately compromise performance leading to lighter lifts.
Furthermore, it has been shown that those who exercise first up are more likely to maintain exercise routines in the long term as they don’t let unexpected turns in the day compromise their routine. By exercising in the morning you also prevent yourself from using the “I’m too tired” excuse at the end of the day.
Importantly, exercise raises mood, alertness and energy levels and by doing so in the morning you will ultimately have a more productive day.
The Night Owls
Exercise in the evening also fair share of benefits. For those looking to build muscle, by exercising in the evening you are ensuring that (if you diet appropriately) that your body is optimally fueled for maximal performance and hence better gains.
Evening exercise can also help limit binge eating at dinner time – a cardinal sin as excess calories at this time of day tends to be stored as fat rather than burnt off due to the close temporal proximity to sleep.
There may also be stress relief benefits by exercising after a long day. This may result in improved sleep but this has been of much debate as some studies have shown that the increased body temperature and hormone levels may in fact interfere rather than aid sleep.
So, the best time is…
Whatever works for you! There are arguments for each side but overall all that matters is that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise – the rest is very secondary.