”Alaska, what is your favorite time to workout? Does it change throughout the year depending on the sunlight in your state? This week's article discusses our circadian rhythms and the different benefits to working out either at morning or in the afternoon. Enjoy!
Reading time: 4 Minutes
- What time of day to get exercise for maximum energy
- How to get exercise benefits from being consistent
- Our energy levels are determined by internal mechnaisms and external stimuli that work around our circadian rhythm.
- There are specific benefits working out in the afternoon versus the morning, and vice versa.
- Consistency is important for exercise to help keep you accountable and allow your body to adjust to a normal time of movement and cortisol production.
The human body is a complex system that rises and falls in energy throughout a 24 hour cycle based on both internal mechanisms and external stimuli. When we wake up in the morning, our bodies use sunlight as part of a circadian rhythm to awaken us from our sleep cycle and begin energy production for the day. As the day continues, we go through cycles of fatigue where our bodies are producing the maximum amount of energy. These are the periods where we want to get exercise so that we can perform at our peak.
Fatigue tends to increase as the day goes on; However, when it comes to exercise we typically reach a peak where our energy levels are at their highest, our blood pressure is lowest, and testosterone production provides maximum power and muscle growth (both female and male). This point occurs within the later part of the afternoon when your body has warmed up throughout the day. Our muscles tend to be cold and stiff in the morning, so as we move throughout the day we stretch and introduce heat into our muscles and thereby increase their work output.
Although our bodies may be more optimally suited for exercise later in the day, there are benefits to getting exercise in the morning as well. The biggest limitation with afternoon workouts is that it is more difficult to keep those schedules when we tend to have other responsibilities such as work, errands, child care, etc. In addition to being inconvenient to go get exercise later in the day, it is also possible to exercise too late in the day and disrupt your sleep cycle by not allowing your body to relax before your bedtime.
Sticking to a schedule
The points discussed above serve as general guidelines for when to get started with exercise. The morning or the afternoon are not your only options; The best time to exercise is when you are able to do so. Just like picking a bedtime, it is beneficial to keep an exercise routine that is consistent. Having a constant time during the week for physical activity will hold you accountable and will allow your body to adjust to regular movement and cortisol production. If you chose to work out in the morning, stretch and engage in some light movement to warm up your muscles for higher activity. If you exercise in the evening, find a relaxing ritual to help you wind down afterwards so that your body is primed for restful sleep.
Chtourou, H., Souissi, N. (2012). The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22531613
Storer, T.W. et Al. (2003). Testosterone dose-dependently increases maximal voluntary strength and leg power, but does not affect fatiguability or specific tension. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12679426
Fairbrother, K. et Al. (2014). Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives. Retrieved from https:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270305/