There’s been a lot of research over the years about when the best time to exercise is, but most experts agree that just working out in general is more important than hitting the gym at a specific time. Dr. Anthony Hackney, professor of exercise physiology and nutrition at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, says HOW you workout is more crucial than when, with high intensity workouts giving you more bang for your buck.
But some studies that suggest “peak times” for exercise to get the best benefits for the body. And if you’re looking to achieve specific goals, there may be benefits to having your sweat sesh at these times.
- Best time for weight management: morning workouts. Hackney says working out first thing on an empty stomach may be more helpful with burning stored fat.
- Best time for intense training: afternoon workouts. By the afternoon, you’ve had time to eat a few times, raising blood sugar levels, which makes it easier to do more high intensity exercise.
- Best for stress management: evening workouts. There’s some debate about how working out before bedtime affects sleep, but research published in the journal Experimental Physiology finds evening exercise doesn’t disrupt sleep and can lower levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates hunger. Health strategist Jay Cardiello says working out in the evening also helps lower levels of the “stress” hormone cortisol.
- Best time overall: when it works for you. No need to drag yourself out of bed in the morning to hit the gym if you’re a total night owl. Anytime you workout and get moving it’s a good thing, no matter what the clock says.
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