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Finding the Ideal Time to Workout

“The best time to workout is actually determined not by science but buy your own life and commitments. For example, if working out in the evenings causes family problems, because you miss out on seeing your children grow up, it’s a good time scientifically, but a bad time personally.”

Source: www.fitness.com

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Some might have preference to workout in the morning, some others might feel that evening is the best bet. But do you know that our body is designed to be at its best at certain times of the day? Although, there is no proper evidence that the effieciency of the calories burned is better during some particular time versus some other time. Lets examine how the time of the day influence our body’s ability to be its best.

Most of the experts say that if you are already following a time-strict routine, stick to it.

Every human has an internal clock which we refer as circadian rhythm. The biggest environmental cue our bodies recognize, and react to, is light. The regulation of our bodily systems based on time of day is referred to as our circadian rhythm. The definition for circadian rhythm as per National Institute of General Medical Science(NIGMS) is

“… physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism’s environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes.”

Circadian rhythm, also referred as body clock in layman’s term, is governed by the 24-hour pattern of the earth’s rotation. These rhythms influence body functions such as blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels, and heart rate, all of which play a role in your body’s readiness for exercise.

[N.B :Circadian clock should not be confused for biological clock.]

Different people will have different preferences and predispositions with regard to how they respond to exercise at different times of the day. If you exercise in the morning, when body temperature is lower, you should allow more time to warm up than you would later in the day.

Research suggests the body could adapt to regular gym dates, so if we hit the weight room every day at 4 p.m., eventually we might perform better at that time than at any other time of day. These findings are similar to earlier research, which suggests that sticking to a specific workout time can result in better performance, higher oxygen consumption, and lower perceived exhaustion.

Your body’s core temperature is an important factor in determining the quality of exercise. A cold body leaves muscles stiff, inefficient, and susceptible to sprains, whereas higher body temperatures leave muscles more flexible. Body temperature typically increases throughout the day, so muscle strength and endurance may peak in the late afternoon, when body temperature is highest. The afternoon is also when reaction time is quickest and  heart rate and blood pressure are lowest, all of which combine to improve performance and reduce the overall likelihood of injury.

Hormone levels are also important in determining optimal workout time. Testosterone is important for muscle growth and strength. which is produced by the body more during late afternoon resistance training than it does during morning workouts. Plus, the stress hormone cortisol, which aids in the storage of fat and reduction of muscle tissue, peaks in the morning and decreases throughout the day and during exercise.

Morning workouts might also be a good option for stress-free snoozing. Since exercise increases heart rate and body temperature, working out too late in the evening (generally after 8 p.m.) may disrupt sleep, while one study showed that working out at 7 a.m. (compared to 1 p.m. or 7 p.m.) may help people sleep more soundly at night*.

[box] * Effects of exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure in prehypertensives. Fairbrother, K., Cartner, B., Alley, J., et al. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 2014; 10: 691-698.[/box]

For weight training, you have to be at your best, both physically and mentally.

Morning:

  • Testosterone is at its daily peak.
  • Mental alertness peaks late morning.
  • Memory works best.
  • Body temperature is still low.

Afternoon:

  • Pain tolerance is highest.
  • Possible point of low energy around noon.
  • Late afternoon, adrenalin and body temperature has a rising trend.
  • Late afternoon, there is an optimum period of mental/physical function balance.

Evening:

  • Coordination, stamina, body temperature at a peak.
  • Lung performance is best.
  • Flexibility and strength at their greatest.
  • Mental focus is waning.

Night:

  • Starting around 9pm, the body produces additional melatonin, preparing for sleep.
  • Bodily processes should be slowing down in preparation for sleep.

[box style=”rounded” border=”full”]My Verdict: Although, its individuals own choice, based on both these more obvious considerations and from the circadian rhythm information, I would recommend that weight training in the afternoon would be best.[/box]

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