Is a morning visit to the gym the best way to start your day or is a workout in the evening more beneficial? As is the case for so many choices in life, there is actually no clear answer, at least as far as exercise science is concerned.
Many experts do advocate for an early morning workout while others do the complete opposite. And as there is science and research available that seems to back both opinions, who is right? To try and work this out we've rounded up a list of advantages for both sides of the argument:
Advantages of an Early Bird Workout
1. Build Consistency More Easily
Many people do find that it's easier to keep up with a morning fitness regime as evening distractions – unavoidable ones like a long commute home, picking up the kids from their various activities, preparing dinner etc.- make it harder to find time to slot in a regular gym session.
Here's an idea; go to bed in your workout gear (well, maybe leave off the sneakers) wake up early, get all those little morning chores done and then head straight to the gym. Many people who try this develop the kind of "seize the day" attitude that will help them stick to their fitness plans.
3. Develop Better Eating Habits
Everyone knows they should start the day with a healthy breakfast, but knowing and doing are often two different things. Starting the day in the gym though can set up a rather healthy domino effect when it comes to eating right. Most people will naturally follow a good morning workout with a nice healthy breakfast to 'refuel' while also achieving another healthy goal; maintaining an increased water intake all morning long.
4. Get Better Sleep
If you know that you must be up by 6 to make it to the gym by 7 that's probably good motivation for getting to bed at a decent hour, rather than getting sidetracked by what's on TV (or Facebook) and staying up too late. Getting enough sleep is crucial for everyone and so for some, as strange as it may sound, an early, early workout may actually lead to a better, more consistent sleep schedule.
Advantages to Working Out in the Evening:
1. Get Some Much-Needed Stress Relief
Numerous studies have linked higher stress levels to weight gain regardless of diet. This is because stress leads to the release of a hormone called cortisol, a baddie that can increase an individual's desire to eat bad-for-them foods.
Stress can also have nasty effects on your health in general, and, let's face it, after a long day at work we are all usually at least a little bit stressed.
Hitting the gym is a great way to relieve some of this stress and get those elevated cortisol levels down, setting you up for an altogether healthier evening ahead in general.
2. Make Buddy Workouts Easier
Some people just do better, in terms of motivation and consistency, when they workout with a friend (or friends) If you are one of them finding a friend who is willing to get up at 5am and head out for a session at the gym may be tough. Finding one who is up for it at 5pm may be a lot easier.
3. Get Better Sleep
Stress is a big culprit when it comes to causing the at least occasional insomnia that many of us deal with. If you have recently spent time reliving some of that stress in the gym your mind is less likely to keep you awake dwelling on problems from the day just passed and more likely to 'allow' you to sleep peacefully.
So, in conclusion, as you can see the experts are right; there is no clear answer in the A.M vs P.M gym debate. Ultimately, what works for you is best. In matters of fitness consistency really is key, so whatever best fits your schedule and 'workout personality' is the best thing to do, no matter what anyone else says. As long as you are doing it, and helping improve and preserve your health, nothing else really matters.