Morning vs. evening: when is the best time to exercise?


We all have a favourite workout time. For some, it’s first thing in the morning. For others, it’s squeezed into a lunch break or after the 9-5 slog is up. You probably base PT appointments on when it’s convenient or when you feel most fired-up. But what would your fitness schedule look like if you based it on optimal performance?

There’s a long-running debate over whether morning or evening workouts are best. And, the truth is, both have their perks, depending on what your fitness goals are. Here, we’re revealing the benefits of both AM and PM exercise, so you can find a workout schedule that works just right for you...

The morning workout

If one of your goals is to lose weight, some experts believe your best time to work out is in the morning. This is because, when you wake up, you tend to have higher levels of cortisol and growth hormones. These hormones aid metabolism, which allows you to draw more energy from your fat reserves as your AM exercise becomes more intense.

A morning workout can also be good for your mental health, as it kick-starts your day with a release of feel-good endorphins. Cue a positive, productive mood that sets the tone for the rest of the day. Research also suggests that healthy habits are easier to stick to if you do them in the morning. So, if motivation is low, consider an early session that gets you up and out.


The afternoon workout

Like that morning workout, an afternoon class is also good for your mental health. In fact, it might be just what you need to hit reset on a stressful day. Heading to the studio during or after your lunch break will give you a major pick-me-up, which will take you through to the afternoon feeling happier and more rewarded.

Plus, an afternoon workout might help you sleep better later that night. It’s not just a case of wearing yourself out – it all comes to your built-in ‘thermostat’. According to the Sleep Foundation, your body temperature rises when you exercise, then as you cool back down you can experience feelings of drowsiness. Working out in the afternoon gives your core temperature time to readjust, so by the time you go to bed, that sleepy, lethargic feeling kicks in.


The evening workout

Some believe a nighttime class might make them feel too pumped just before they go to bed. However, getting in an energetic session may help you drift off to sleep far quicker. Again, your internal ‘thermostat’ comes into play here, causing drowsiness as it dials back down. You can boost the effects by ending your workout with cool-down exercises, like stretching and yoga.

Meanwhile, according to a study by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, an afternoon or early evening workout may allow for peak muscle-building performance. This, they say, is down to fluctuations in hormone levels and your core body temperature. If enhancing strength is your goal, try booking in for a PM session.

Plus, there are few things better for a busy brain than an end-of-day workout. Sometimes, you need to draw a line under a hectic day with a PT session that’s all about you. Ultimately, our tip is to talk to your Artisan trainer about the results you hope to achieve. We can help you find a routine that helps you smash your goals, all while fitting around your lifestyle.

Up next: read up on the five ways to ease post-workout DOMS – no matter what time you exercise.