When is Exercise the Most Beneficial?
Jan 29, 2019 01:32PM
By Kathleen Ganster
Oxford Athletic Club
Early birds may like hitting the gym first thing in the morning, while others prefer classes or a run after work. Is one better than the other when it comes to fitness?
“After 30 years in the fitness business, I’ve seen more success with those who have early morning routines. Their workouts are more consistent, and they tend to be more energized during the day. And there is scientific evidence to back this up,” said Jackie Frederick, certified fitness professional and assistant general manager of Oxford Athletic Club.
One piece of evidence backing Frederick’s statement can be found in Dr. John Ratey’s book, Spark: The Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain. Dr. Ratey discusses how exercise can change not only physical but mental health—and morning exercise works particularly well.
“But you should do what works for you,” Frederick added. “If you can only work out in the evening, then work out in the evening.” She added that research shows that people feel stronger in the evening and their bodies are more limber, which is particularly good for those with conditions such as arthritis.
Marissa Anderson, certified personal trainer and owner of Moksha Training, agreed that whatever timing works for the person exercising is what is optimal.
"The best time of day to exercise is the time of day that you actually do it,” she said. “Depending on your personal schedule, that may be early morning, mid-afternoon or late evening. The most important part is that the exercise is completed… no matter what time of day it is.”
Like Frederick, Anderson encourages those with flexibility to work out first thing in the morning.
“Physiologically speaking, exercising in the morning will have a positive effect on metabolism and cognitive abilities, providing increased productivity and a clearer mind throughout the day,” she said. “Also, exercise will stimulate the body and give a person energy throughout the day, as opposed to exercising in the evening, which may cause people to have trouble falling asleep.”
She added that morning exercisers tend to make better nutritional choices throughout the day that also positively impact their health.
The bottom line? Exercise and do it on a regular basis.
“We tend to justify our way out of exercise if we don’t get it done in the ‘opportune’ timeframe,” said Anderson. “However, there are benefits to exercise at all times of the day, and there are no benefits if we don’t ever get it done.”