Mind and Body
This Is the Best Time to Exercise, Scientists Say
Working out is the worst. Sure, those post-gym endorphins feel great, but waking up extra early feels impossible some days, and a sweat session is the last thing on your mind after a long day at the office.
Scientists at the Weizmann Institute in Israel have learned the most efficient time to work out. And it turns out, our bodies are better at burning fat and conserving energy at night than in the morning.
In the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, lead researcher Dr. Gad Asher had a group of 12 people work out in the morning at 8 a.m., then again, a few days later, at 6 p.m. They found that members of the 6 p.m. group didn’t have to breathe as hard, had a lower heart rate, and said their workout felt easier than people who worked out in the morning.
Check out the video above to learn about the metabolic science behind your evening workout.
The study suggests that perceived exertion during exercise has to do with your circadian rhythm and your internal clock that tells you when you should be asleep and when you should be awake.
If you work a normal daytime schedule, you’re just starting the active phase of your body’s clock in the morning, and just ending the resting phase. But in the evening, your body is at the end of its active phase and primed to take on a physical challenge.
But 6 p.m. may not be the optimal time for everyone to exercise. Asher and his team suggest that a person’s natural sleep cycle could impact their exact workout sweet spot. Asher says there are two kinds of people: “night owls” and “morning larks.” Night owls might want to work out a little later than 6, while morning larks should hit the gym a little earlier.
No matter what time you hit the gym, consistency is key. A survey published in July 2019 in the journal Obesity shows that people who work out at the same time every day are more likely to stick to their workout program. For example, if you go to the gym every day after work, your body will start to associate leaving work with going to the gym.
It’ll take some trial and error to find the exact best time to exercise, but when it comes to getting into summer shape, any workout is better than no workout at all.