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Working Out: What Time of Day is Best?

According to research on circadian rhythms, body temperature, and muscle strength, it's best to workout in the late afternoon.

Your brain follows a delicate schedule known as circadian rhythm. It's like an internal clock, and it controls your body temperature. By the afternoon, your body temperature is 2 degrees warmer than in the morning. And because of that, your muscles are more supple and warmed up, so you're decreasing your chance of pulling a muscle or getting injured.

Exercising in the late afternoon gives your body a chance to wake up, and you'll have already eaten 2 meals, so you'll be fueled up and have more energy.

Another thing, if you exercise in the late afternoon or early evening, you'll have a chance to get your work done. Your mind will feel more settled and calm, and your afternoon workout will be something to look forward to, a way to release.

But some experts say that working out in the morning jump-starts your metabolism. They say that morning exercise promotes more fat burning, but the difference is so small, it doesn't really matter.

Exercising before you start your day might be the only time you can be sure to fit it in, because once your day starts going, it's hard to break away from work and family commitments.

Fit's Tips: The bottom line is - you've got to find a way to realistically work exercise into your life. It has got to be compatible with your personality and your schedule. Whether it's at 5am or 5pm, set aside at least 3 times during the week that you can exercise.

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Join The Conversation
juliet juliet 8 years
I really can't do morning - afternoon and evening is best for me. Mornings are reserved for sipping tea and reading the paper.
yogini yogini 8 years
I love the noon or 1pm workout because it gets me through the 3pm slump in my circadian rhythm. I like to practice yoga in the evening because it helps me unwind. But in the spring and summer, I LOVE to go running in the morning to get a great boost of energy. I guess it goes with the time of year, my schedule and how I am feeling.
Meearya Meearya 8 years
I used to work out at night, after work at around 6pm. I've since switched jobs, and I don't have to leave for work until 9:30, so now I always fit in my exercise before work. I get up at 7:30, exercise for 50 minutes to an hour, and then get ready for work. I find it's so much better to get it done early, be done with it, and then not have to worry how I'll fit it in should something come up. Plus, I get home, and it's 100% relaxation, which is always a plus.
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 8 years
I'm with early violence when my schedule changed at work and I started coming home at 7 instead of 5:30 I just stopped excercising. I want to start again but I need to find energy. And mornings are too hectic for me I shower make breakfast for hubbie and myself and I'm out the door, and this is dragging myself out of bed in the morning.
TheFairestLady TheFairestLady 8 years
I'm not a morning person, really. My workouts usually begin around 7PM or sometimes even 8PM. I think it's helpful because I feel like I can let out all my steam at the end of the day. In fact, I think this gives me my impetus for working out every night; it feels so very cathartic.
Fitness Fitness 8 years
amyfinke - I don't know how you get up every day at 5am and 7:30 on the weekends. You MUST be a morning person. And very dedicated too.
Linda-McP Linda-McP 8 years
If I don't get to the gym in the morning, I won't go at all.
Fitness Fitness 8 years
I agree. Whatever time works for you is great as long as you fit it in.
Hope5 Hope5 8 years
Early in the morning is the best for me.
amyfinke amyfinke 8 years
5 AM every week day and 7:30 on the weekends..if I don't get there when the gym opens, I won't get a treadmill or my weights!
mandiesoh mandiesoh 8 years
i try to work out during my daily lunch breaks and on saturdays. i think the most impt thing IS to fit it in whenever its most convenient for you.
ccsugar ccsugar 8 years
I usually work out when I get out of work, around 6ish. I'd love to work out in the a.m. before work, but I can't drag my lazy @ss out of bed.
Greentea1203 Greentea1203 8 years
I used to love working out in the morning because I'd be motivated and get it over. Then I'd shower, do my makeup and go. But now that I work an office job from 7am-3:30pm, I've got to go running in the afternoon. The only problem is once I get home from work, I just want to relax--plus I've already showered and everything for the day, so that makes me even lazier!
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