When you’re trying to craft the perfect daily routine – a thoughtful morning, a healthy breakfast, a not-so-miserable commute (that may just be from your bedroom to your living room), a productive workday, time with family and/or friends, a little self-care, and an evening cool down to settle into bed – where exactly should exercise fit into that day?
What is the perfect time to workout? The time that is not only most convenient, but will give you the most benefits and best value possible.
The best time of day to work out is 100% unique to you.
I know that, oftentimes, you're looking for a specific answer and magic solution. You want to be told that working out in the morning before work is best, as it will give you the energy you’ve been missing. Or, NO, in actuality, the mid-day workout is best, making your days go by quicker and easing the after-lunch slump. Or just kidding, the evening workout is supreme, preparing you for better sleep and improving your entire day.
But, unfortunately, this magic solution you’re looking for does not exist. The true best time to work out is finding a time that works for your individual schedule, energy levels, personality, and something that you will stick to.
This answer can be frustrating and might make you roll your eyes. There has to be SOME metric or number that will give you clarity. How the heck are you supposed to figure out what works best for you?
But the reason I am not going to dive into the research behind the value of a morning workout vs. and evening workout is because the number one most important thing when it comes to moving your body – and reaching your goals – is consistency. You have to stick with your movement day, after day, after day. You can’t work hard for one week or one month and then take three full weeks off and expect to continuously feel good. Because, unfortunately, you just won’t.
Consistency, not the time of day, is what gets you results.
Consistency is what alleviates back pain. It’s what builds full-body strength to make your day-to-day activities easier. It’s what increases your flexibility, mobility and your energy. It’s what helps you define your muscles and builds confidence.
And how do we stay consistent? Find a workout that is sustainable for you.
If you hate waking up early in the morning, trying to squeeze in a 6:00 a.m. workout before you leave for the office, just because you were told that is the best time to exercise, will only last for so long. You might be able to fight your normal rhythm for a little while, but eventually, you’ll slack and maybe stop exercising altogether.
So what do you do? You find a different time. You block an hour lunch break in your calendar every day and take 30 minutes to move your body and 30 minutes to eat. Or you pack your gym bag the night before and bring it to the office with you, giving you extra motivation to stop at the studio or gym on the way home. Or maybe you take your dog for a run every evening for accountability.
What you don’t do is set 5 alarms with demeaning tag lines imploring you to wake up early when your body wants to sleep
The good news? There’s no wrong answer in finding your personal best time to work out.
However, it may take some trial and error.
All the hours in the day (besides those moments when your kids or your boss steal your time) are opportunities to test out your most productive workout hour.
Before the sun rises, mid-morning after your cup of coffee, lunchtime, early afternoon when your slump is kicking in, right after work, or right before bed. Find the routine that works best for you and one that will last week after week.
Just because you know you’re a night owl, doesn’t mean you’re going to love a 10:00 p.m. workout. Test it out. And then test out a 3:00 p.m. work out. Compare the two and see what makes you feel most alive.
What time gives you the most energy? What time do you dread the least? What time makes you feel more productive after? And honestly...what time works around kid pick-ups and drop-off and cooking dinner and making it to all your necessary meetings?
I know life is busy. It is for everyone. But you can set your priorities. Make movement one of them. A non-negotiable. You move your body like you brush your teeth.
Not totally sure where to begin? Try one of these classes for each time of day.
Morning: One of my favorite morning classes to ease into your day
While the “perfect” time may not exist, you can find your perfect time. Test it out, find your groove and stick to it.`