Morning, afternoon or evening—what time is best for a workout? The answer depends on what time is best for YOU, and that’s based on your personal goals, schedule and lifestyle.
“The best time of the day is when you will do it most consistently, because the benefits of physical activity are tightly linked to the amount you do on a steady basis,” says Russell Pate, M.D., professor of exercise science in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
Morning exercisers are more likely to stick to their workout routines, according to Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego. “The thinking is that they get their exercise in before other time pressures interfere,” Bryant says. “I usually exercise at 6 a.m., because no matter how well-intentioned I am, if I don’t exercise in the morning, other things will squeeze it out.”
A morning workout can set you up to eat a healthy lunch. That’s because exercise limits the body’s production of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger.
Some of the latest research shows that the optimal time to exercise is when body temperature is at its peak, which makes muscles more flexible. For most people, that occurs in the late afternoon. An added bonus: Muscle strength is at its greatest and endurance is approximately 4% higher at that time too. Plus, working out in the afternoon may help you sleep more soundly at night, according to a new study in the Journal of Psychology.
Any workout is a win, and every time of day has its benefits. So get going—at a time that’s best for you!