What is the best Time to work out?
In my opinion, there are two best times for your training: one is in the morning before starting your day, one is at 16:00 o’clock in the afternoon before having dinner and winding down once you are back home. I am going to explain to you why you should opt for one of these times to exercise.
Humans are really good at planning. I bet you are as well: you plan your day, you plan your career, you plan your vacation. Experience teaches us though that most of the time, things don’t go like planned. This has nothing to do with us or our planning, it has to do with the others who have their own plans. So let’s assume you were planning to hit the gym after work at 5 PM and you had your snack at 3 PM, you feel motivated and full of energy, your gym bag is packed and you are excited to wear that new tight you bought in the weekend. But at 4:30 PM your supervisor sends an email to the team, saying that there is an emergency meeting scheduled for 5:30 PM and you should prepare for a late night at the office. Then there is nothing you can do, right? You had no excuses, you were actually excited and very determined to hit that gym but it won’t be possible. Similar things happen with your spouse who needs help, children who get sick, or friends and family members who spontaneously drop by. You may be the most organized person in the world but you cannot control other people or the system you are in.
I find that one of the best solutions to deal with that problem is to work out in the morning when you are still in your safe space that you can control all by yourself. If there is a way for you to exercise before you actually start your day, chances are high that you will be able to finish your workout. That again means that you kicked off your day in a very effective way, set the energy level high and your workout is off your to-do-list. Furthermore, exercising in the morning has proven to lead to healthier food choices as a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise proves. When the participants walked briskly for 45 minutes in the morning, they were less tempted by delicious looking food photos compared to when they didn’t exercise and were shown the unhealthy foods.
That said, I know - and I am one of them - that certain people just don’t feel like working out in the morning. I set the alarm at 5:30 AM to go running in the dark when the whole city was still asleep for about two weeks when I was still living in Zürich, but then I realized that I didn’t enjoy it at all. My body was literally asleep and my mood had dropped after every single run because I was dreaming of sipping my coffee and preparing myself for the day instead of puking my lungs out when my body clearly was refusing to function. I stopped doing that and my life quality immediately improved again.
According to research and my own personal experience, people perform best around 16:00-18:00 o’clock. 4 PM is a good time in case you had your lunch around 1 PM because then you still have enough energy from your lunch and are not yet hungry. You are definitely more awake in the afternoon than in the morning and you are not too tired yet.
Scientists have found out that people’s body temperature increases throughout the day and is at its highest between 2 and 6 PM, while heart rate and blood pressure are at their lowest, optimizing the muscle’ function for endurance and performance while reducing the risk for injury. If you are planning to work out at 6PM, you should have a snack around 3-4 PM because you may get really hungry during your workout if you don’t eat anything.
Since my children usually are done with school around 15:00-16:00 o’clock and I want to make sure they have a healthy snack and somebody to talk to when they come home, I try to work out before. It is not ideal but when I work out at 2 PM, I make sure nobody is interfering with my exercise plans at least!