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The Ideal Time To Work Out

Are you better off getting your exercise done at dawn, or should you exhaust

yourself in the evening? It’s something even scientists can't agree on… So

what should you do?

Over the years there have been numerous studies designed to unearth the ideal time to

exercise, but to be honest, credible scientific evidence is still pretty thin on the ground. The

good news is, a new study out of Australia has introduced a new dynamic – which has

reignited interest in this hotly debated topic.

For the first time, this latest study focused on exercise in conjunction with diet (past studies

have not considered diet, therefore making it difficult to differentiate the effects of

exercise, and the timing of workouts, from how people fuel their bodies). The researchers

worked with a group of sedentary, overweight men who ate a fatty diet. After introducing a

varied exercise program, the researchers found that regardless of when the study

participants exercised, they enjoyed similar improvements in cardio fitness. However, those

who exercised later in the day also saw lower cholesterol levels, better blood-sugar control,

and improved cardiovascular molecular patterns in their bloodstreams – all important

markers for improved metabolic health.

While these new findings are insightful for couch-loving, fried-food eating blokes, for the

rest of us, they provide no concrete recommendation. It seems the best time to exercise is

still very much up in the air.

If you want to get the best from your workout, simply work out whenever feels good,” says

Bryce Hastings, Les Mills Head of Research.

“By scheduling in exercise for the time that works best for you, you’re more likely to enjoy

it. When you enjoy exercise you stick with it, and that’s where habits are born. Once

exercise becomes a habit, the results really kick in.”

Sure, there’s a chance your body will burn calories differently at different times of the day,

but these differences will be minimal compared to the benefit of exercising regularly. How

much you benefit from exercise is closely linked to the amount of consistent physical

activity you do,” he adds.

Creating consistency relies on a little trial and error. Hastings suggests trying the same

workout at different times of the day. Take note of how you feel while you’re exercising and

what works best with your schedule.

If you still can’t establish the workout time that best suits you, here are a few standout

findings to consider:



When it comes to establishing a habit, many people argue that morning workouts are best.

By exercising early in the day, you can tick off your physical activity before any competing

priorities, disturbances or excuses come into play. As a result, there's more chance of


Morning exercise makes exercising on an empty stomach more feasible, and research shows

after-burn effects of exercise can last longer if you train in the morning.

Early morning exercise may help you cement a good sleep cycle. Research indicates it can

shift your circadian rhythm so that you naturally feel more alert in the morning and tired at


Studies also show that exercising early in the day can bolster your productivity – making you

more alert, focused and energised with greater decision-making ability.

TOP TIP: The secret to getting the most from early morning exercise is to wake

refreshed, invigorated and ready to raise your heart rate. This makes a good bedtime

routine essential. Working on your computer or eating late in the evening may

sabotage your body's ability to sleep and make getting up that much harder.


Exercising in the evening can be ideal for alleviating the day's stresses. If you've had plenty

of opportunities to eat and fuel your body through the day, you're in a better position to

push your limits and take your workout up a notch.

Physical performance, such as muscle strength, flexibility, power and endurance can often

be better in the evening, which is why some experts recommend doing strength training

and HIIT workouts at night if you can.

exhaustion, which suggests they can work out for longer and enjoy more fitness benefits.

Your core temperature is warmer later in the day, so you are more likely to accelerate your

training without the need for a lengthy warm-up period. What's more, testosterone

production (which is important for building muscle in both men and women) is shown to be

greater during afternoon and evening workouts than during morning exercise.

When workouts are ticked off later in the day it may aid metabolic health by smoothing

blood-sugar spikes and may also improve heart health and the control of type 2 diabetes.

There’s also evidence that evening exercise has been shown to help lessen the impact of

Lastly, there’s no credible evidence that evening exercise can disrupt sleeping patterns. In

fact, if you choose wisely, your workout can promote good sleep. A new study of

BODYBALANCE reveals pre-bedtime yoga and meditation session can improve

sleep, boost positive feelings, and enhance recovery from mental as well as physical stress.

TOP TIP: You don't need to wait until the evening to exercise. Many find that

escaping the office for a midday workout can be invigorating. It can arm you with

more energy, aid productivity and even see you through that dreaded mid-afternoon

slump. The most important thing to know: any exercise is good exercise. Doing

exercise at a time that works for you is much better than doing no exercise at all.

If you ever feel like your motivation is lacking, it’s a good idea to aim to exercise first thing in

the morning. You are far better off ticking off your workout, than planning it for the

afternoon and then never getting to it. And if mornings are not your thing, there’s good

news. There’s a strong chance you can learn to become a morning person, as research

suggests that over time your body can adapt to regular training cycles.

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