The Best Time Of Day To Exercise Might Not Be What You Think

Are morning people stronger when they work out before daylight? Do nightbirds get a better burn when the sun sets? As long as you squeeze your exercise in, is the time of day relevant to the benefits you receive from a regular fitness routine? According to The New York Times, studies in humans and animals show that the timing of meals and sleep can impact metabolic health, and more recently, the same has been suggested for exercising.

One study, published in the journal Diabetologia in 2019, found that men living with type 2 diabetes had a significant drop in blood sugar when they exercised in the afternoon, as opposed to having a spike in blood sugar when they exercised in the morning. This study prompted Patrick Schrauwen, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and movement sciences in the Netherlands, to dig a bit further into his own research consisting of how moderate exercise impacts those with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Schrauwen found that those who exercised in the late afternoon lost more fat and were more likely to have balanced blood sugar levels (per The New York Times).

The time you spend working out matters more than the time of day you work out

Exercising in the late afternoon is not just beneficial for men with type 2 diabetes. One study published in 2010 in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports suggests that the afternoon is ideal for a sweat sesh since that's when your body temperature is highest and you'll have better strength and endurance. According to Healthlineresearch shows that a person's reaction time is better in the afternoon, and blood pressure and heart rate are at their lowest. That means, the afternoon may be the best time for HIIT and speed workouts

On the other hand, there are studies that suggest an early morning workout is best, with findings that it can better support muscle growth, burn more fat, improve daily mood, and improve sleeping patterns (via CNET).

The bottom line? To solidify a recommended workout time that benefits every individual is difficult, as each person has a unique genetic make-up and set of life circumstances. However, if you can workout at the same time every day, your body will start to adapt to the schedule and get better at working out at that time (via cnet). What remains most important, however, is not the time of day, but the time you spend working out daily, which according to the Mayo Clinic, is 30 minutes of moderate exercise. 

So, don't worry if you're not a morning person and prefer to workout in the evening or afternoon and don't sweat it if the opposite holds true. The best time to work out is whenever you can squeeze it in.