Friday, May 4, 2012

Morning or Evening?

What time of day is the better time to work out?  Different people give different reasons for their preference.
Pro Morning:
-It gets it "over with" for the day
-I eat less junk during the day because I started my morning off healthy
-I can have my evening open to spend with my friends and family

Pro Night:
-It helps me release the stress built up from the day
-I eat less junk during the day because I haven't worked out/burned those calories yet
-I'm so tired after working out that it helps me sleep better

However, is there any factual support in favor of one over the other?  I have heard myths that working out in the morning helps burn more calories throughout the rest of the day day.  While sleeping, your metabolism is at rest.  By waking up and working out first thing in the morning, you are kick starting your metabolism.  A more active, or "awake", metabolism helps burn more calories. While some studies support this statement, it has been found that the extra calories burned is very minimal.  So in reality, the extra calories burned from a morning workout are not significant enough.

So, what about biology?  Are you a morning person or a night owl?  I have always been a morning person.  Even before the alarm goes off, I am awake.  Once I see the sun outside and know that the day has started, I need to be up and moving to start mine as well.  Whether you are a morning or evening person has an influence on when you feel most alert and will get the most out of your workout.  Unsurprisingly, studies have shown that if you are a morning person, you will get your best workout in first thing in the morning.  Night owls have better workouts later in the evening.

Unfortunately, biology isn't always enough.  If I could, I would work out in the mornings before work.  However, my work schedule does not allow this.  As it is, I wake up around 6:30 during the weekdays so that I can leave my apartment by 7.  If I worked out in the mornings, I would need to wake up around 5:00 once I factor in walking to the gym, time spent at the gym, and a shower.  Let's face it...that's just not going to happen!  I might be a morning person, but a 5:00 wake up is even too early for me.

Often (and especially in my case) convenience overrides "biology".  Ultimately, if does not matter when you work out.  Both morning and evenings have their benefits.  What is most important is that it works for you!  Find a time that you feel most alert and works with your routine.

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