When to Exercise: Consistency is Key!
Many people debate the best time of day to exercise – is one time or another better for calorie burn? We all hope there is a magic answer in order to get us to our weight loss goals more quickly. The truth is most sources agree there is no significant data that shows the time of day a person exercises makes a difference in the efficiency calorie burn.
So what does this mean for our exercise schedules?
The Many Variables
There are so many variables that can determine when a person exercises. Some people are morning people and love to exercise early to get going for the day. For others, the morning is a nightmare – not only do they not have the energy, they don’t have the time between getting the kids to school and rushing to work.
Then there are the afternoon and evening exercisers. They love the time to decompress from a busy day after the craziness winds down; the evening exercise caps off the day. Others simply couldn’t imagine finding the energy after a long day.
So if there is no conclusive evidence of more efficient calorie burn for the average person then what do the scenarios above have in common that we should pay attention to?
Whether it is morning or evening exercise, it is about what works for each person – either how motivated they feel or when they can make the exercise work.
Let Your Body Be Your Guide
So if it is simply about motivation, time and how you feel, what does that mean for a workout routine?
While the American Council on Exercise notes that research suggests those who exercise in the morning tend to be more consistent in forming an exercise habit we know that this does not apply to everyone.
If morning simply isn’t going to work for you then make sure you create a plan for fitting in your exercise at another point in the day. Simply put, If you are miserable when you are exercising, you are not likely to want to do it again, and developing that routine is key.
If you are struggling with exercise in the morning it may mean your body clock leans towards the evenings. Try pushing your exercise back and seeing how your body responds to an afternoon or evening workout. If all goes well and it suits you then it will be easier for your daily exercise to become a habit.
Your Body Clock And Habit
In fact, habit and your body clock are intertwined in a complex way.
Researchers at the University of North Texas found that we can actually reset our body clock based on environmental cues. If you’ve started exercising in the morning, your body will come to recognize the alarm as a signal to start gearing up and getting ready.
With these environmental cues getting a person ready to exercise in the morning, they may find they’ll get more out of their morning workout because the body’s circadian rhythm is now expecting the routine.
By creating a habit, we are actually training our body to be more responsive. It’s important to point out this principle works equally as well for evening workouts as it does for the morning. It could be throwing your gym bag in the car that becomes your afternoon cue!
There’s two tips to keep in mind that will have an effect on your performance:
- Don’t exercise directly after eating a full meal – The blood that needs to go to your muscles is going to your digestive tract.
- Get enough sleep! Experts agree that sleep deprivation could make you miss a workout or be erratic with your performance. Watch out for exercising just prior to sleep as well as over-stimulation could lead to insomnia.
Consistency is The Key
We know by now that there are many variables that affect when we exercise – time, motivation, family obligations and more. The bottom line is that the time of day you exercise doesn’t affect efficiency of your workout and calorie burn.
The time of day CAN affect when you are more readily able to turn your workout routine into a habit. Experts advise choosing a time and a workout that feels right to you; this is the best way to ensure your workout becomes a habit where you will ultimately reap the benefit of regular calorie burn.