Whether you’re a real life adult on the 9 to 5 grind, an enthusiastic summer intern, or a student just tryna get through the day, squeezing in time to work out is no easy feat. A lot of people don’t work out because they don’t think they have enough time, but research shows that there’s an optimal time to work out to get the most bang for your buck.
The verdict is in and the best time to work out to maximize physical benefits and stick to an exercise schedule is *drum roll* in the morning. Even if you’re not a morning person, waking up a little earlier to get a sweat in before work can have a positive impact on a lot of areas of your life.
According to a study the NYTimes called “groundbreaking,” working out in the morning before eating breakfast burns more fat than working out after breakfast or later in the day. The idea is that when you work out prior to eating anything, your body uses fat reserves for energy instead of your last meal. I’m an advocate of having a banana before working out in the morning to avoid getting hangry, but it’s best to avoid a big meal.
Working out in the morning also gives your metabolism a boost for the rest of the day, helping burn off your eats, as opposed to at night when you’re asleep.
A team of researchers found that what time of day people exercise impacts their quality of sleep. Exercise is hailed for improving sleep, but what time of day people exercise plays an important role.
In this study, the researchers concluded that morning exercise increases parasympathetic nerve activity at night. If you’re wondering what the f*** that is, I Googled it and it’s the part of the nervous system that slows your heart rate, helping you fall asleep.
They also warned against high-intensity exercise in the evening because it prevents the body from going through its normal nighttime cooling process that enables sleep. So there’s your excuse for not working out after today’s commute.
You’re more likely to actually work out
Personally, if I don’t work out in the morning, it’s pretty likely that I’ll come up with an excuse not to work out later in the day, too. It turns out most people are the same way.
A 2014 study looked at people’s plans to work out versus how often they actually exercised. When people planned on exercising in the afternoon or evening, they were significantly less likely to actually workout. But the group that planned on working out in the AM experienced no significant difference between intentions and actual behavior.
They also found that the time block when most people intended to work out and didn’t was 5 to 8 pm. I’m guessing that’s when you get home from work and I’m guessing you don’t wanna beat the odds today.
It’s easier to stick to a schedule
There aren’t any scheduling conflicts at 6 am (sorry, did I forget that’s when you walk your goldfish?). There are also fewer distractions as everyone’s just starting their day, so it’s easier to focus on your workout.
By consistently waking up early, you create a schedule and it becomes a habit to get that morning run in. I’m not trying to hate on the night owls here, but morning exercisers have been shown to be more consistent than their after-work counterparts.
You’re setting yourself up for a good day
By working out in the morning, you’re starting the day on a healthy tone that can translate to other decisions later on, like walking instead of driving and skipping the donuts someone brought in to the office (but hey, if it was a really good workout, eat the donut, you earned it).
Plus the boost of endorphins and awesome feeling of conquering a new PR can put you on a high for the rest of the day. #crushedit
You’re more focused at work
A sweat sesh is a great way to wake up your body and mind, which can make you more focused at work. According to the Huffington Post, “working out can increase your mental clarity for 4 to 10 hours post-exercise.” Talk about boosted work productivity.
It may not be easy to wake up a little earlier in the mornings, but stick with it and you’ll thank yourself later. When that alarm goes off and you’re wondering what in the name of all things holy possessed you to do this, think of all the reasons you work out and get. up.