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What's the Best Time to Exercise?
by Michael Stefano

A busy lifestyle can make finding the time to exercise a nightmare. Most Americans that workout are also employed 40-plus hours a week, or manage a household and family, or both! This puts time on short supply, and unfortunately, one of the first things to bite the dust is your fitness program.

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What time of day do you exercise?

We surveyed 500 fitness buffs and this is what we discovered. About twenty-eight percent of you exercise any time you can, a dead heat with those who prefer an evening workout. But what�s the most popular time to exercise?

Morning got over 200 votes out of 500 exercisers polled (forty-four percent). The least favorite time to train the body was during the afternoon hours (at only ten percent). Those pesky busy schedules deny most of us the luxury of squeezing in a mid-afternoon session at the gym.

  • Survey Results
    I prefer to exercise ...
  • Mornings - 44%
  • Afternoons - 10%
  • Evenings - 28%
  • Any Time - 28%

A Recent Study

But according to the latest research, exercising in the morning might not be the best idea. A test conducted in June of 2001, at the University of Chicago found that certain levels of two important hormones responsible for energy metabolism, and fat burning (Thyrotropin and Cortisol) rose most during exercise that took place during the evening hours.

Body�s Natural Rhythm

Throughout various times of the day there is also a natural ebb and flow of energy that all of us experience. We adapt to our daily schedules of sleep, work, and rest, and actually become stronger during the periods of the day when our bodies instinctively anticipate greater amounts of work (based on previous behavior).

In other words, if you workout every day at 6 PM, your body will get the most from a workout that takes place at 6 PM. Because you've grown accustomed to exercise in the evening, you won�t be as energetic and strong during a workout that takes place in the early morning hours. For you, a morning workout will not be quite as effective.

Fortunately, any differences will be minor, and a workout that takes place during the evening hours is still far better than no workout at all. For a short cut or start-up, workout, click here.

Practicality Rules

So should you rearrange your life around your exercise schedule, just to ensure an evening workout? Researchers are apt to answer a very adamant NO! Ultimately, finding enough time (and energy) to exercise, no matter what the time of day, is most what's important.

Ideally, stick to your scheduled program, but here is 5 ways to get around a busy schedule.

  1. Shrink to Fit
    Cut workouts in half and squeeze in a 15 or 20 minute session instead of your normal workout. These, "short but sweet" workouts can produce dramatic results.

  2. Start Your Day 30 Minutes Earlier
    Set the alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier and workout before your day starts. Eventually your body will adjust to the earlier wake up call.

  3. 30 Minute Lunch Hour
    Split your lunch hour in two, and devote half an hour to exercise before you eat. This will also curb your appetite, and make it easier to cut lunch time calories.

  4. Rock-a-by-baby
    When the little one goes down for a nap, squeeze in 10 or 15 minutes. Whether you're a work at home mom or dad, take every opportunity you get to squeeze in some exercise. Repeat throughout the day to add up to 20 or 30 minutes.

  5. Double Up
    Create combination workouts that you can perform 3 or 4 times weekly. For example, combine 10 minutes of strength with 20 minutes of cardio training for three or four, 30-minute weekly workouts.

Don�t allow strict guidelines on when to exercise wind up as less exercise. Be flexible in your scheduling, and do what you can, when you can to get the most from any exercise program.

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