The Best and Worst Times to Exercise | Fitbie

Fitness Tips: When to Work Out

The Best and Worst Times to Exercise

Whether your goal is to build muscle, run faster, or simply make it to the gym four times a week, syncing your workouts with your body’s sleep-wake cycle can help you achieve it

Battling the Body Clock

The Best and Worst Times to Exercise // fit man checking his watch © Thinkstock

Image: Thinkstock

If you power through postwork gym sessions but can’t rally for a morning jog, you understand that your body has a preference for exercise at a certain time of day. That’s because a burst of energy or bout of sluggishness is in part derived from your circadian rhythm, the body’s built-in 24-hour clock.

“Circadian rhythms affect sleep patterns, hormones, and body temperature, making us feel more alert at times and tired at other times,” says Julia Valentour, a programs coordinator for the American Council on Exercise. During periods of low light, the body creates more melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy, and sunlight spurs the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps us get out of bed in the morning. Both impact exercise effectiveness.

“Optimally, you want to work out in the afternoon,” says Robert Reames, CPT, a spokesperson for Gold’s Gym International. “Cortisol levels are lower and body temperature is higher, so exercise is more efficient, and there’s less chance of injury.”

But don’t curse your inner clock just yet. Experts agree that a proper warm-up, cool-down, or even a powerful playlist can prime your body for optimal performance at any time of day. Here’s what to consider before scheduling your next sweat session.

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