When is the best time of day to exercise? Do you burn more fat first thing in the morning? Are your muscles stronger in the afternoon?
Whenever I am asked this question I answer with another question:
What time of day works best for you?
Forget any research studies you've read for a minute. The results from one time of day compared to another aren't significant enough to justify exercising at a time that's inconvenient for you. Doing so means you're more likely to skip it entirely. So what if you read working out before breakfast burns more calories than any other time of day? If you're hitting the snooze button instead of the treadmill three out of five mornings, those extra calories don't mean a thing!
Focus on two things when incorporating physical activity into your routine:
1. Your schedule
Take a look at your week and determine when you have free time. Look at what days are easier than others and what time frames have the least distractions.
You may have the best intentions of trying to hit your company's fitness center in the afternoon every day. Though fifty percent of the time you end up working through that hour so you can leave the office early. Take a hint. Maybe the afternoon isn't the best time for you. Use your lunch break, time you usually take for yourself, to go to the fitness center and eat at your desk later while you catch up on emails.
The 5pm spinning class at your local health club was a staple in your weekly routine. Except now it seems like you're always running the kids to soccer practice or dance classes or *insert wherever kids are going nowadays*. You rarely make it there before the class is halfway over so you skip it altogether. It's quite obvious the top priority of you your 5pm hour is no longer spinning. Try the 5am class instead while the kids are still in bed. Or, pop in an exercise DVD in the evening when they're doing homework.
2. Your energy level
When do you feel your best during the day? The time of day when you are energized, focused, and least stressed.
If you can wake up before the rest of the world relatively easy, do your workout then. It will be out of the way before you can think of a laundry list excuses to avoid it later. However if you need an IV of caffeine shooting into your veins just to make it to noon, then you might want to think about exercising later in the day.
Syncing your workout schedule with your energy level is critical. You'll be more motivated to lace up your sneakers and get moving. Your performance will be better too which makes for a more efficient workout. The end result is a stronger, leaner you!