Is there really a best time to exercise? Experts say yes

Does it really matter when we exercise? Experts weigh in. Getty Images

Whether you’re a morning person who loves cardio or a night owl who lifts at a 24-hour gym, experts say timing can be crucial for getting the most out of working out.

Previous studies have shown there are benefits of working out early in the morning and in the evening, Women’s Health reports, but most experts agree working out right before bed could interfere with your sleep.

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Another study, the Daily Mail reports, argued it was better to exercise in the evening — people’s metabolism adapted better during this time period, authors claimed.

A.m. vs. p.m. workouts

Strength coach Lee Boyce of Toronto says timing of your exercises do matter, and if you are strength training with heavy weights, you shouldn’t be doing it too early in the morning.

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“It has to do with your physiological peak,” he tells Global News. “Your nervous system has to be up for the challenge.”

He adds, research suggests the best time to exercise is either closer to lunchtime or after work.

“If you’re going to use heavy weights, it’s not recommended close to the time you wake up,” he says.

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Boyce argues because our spines are in one position for the majority of the night, the discs between your vertebra need time to drain out fluids collected while you sleep. If you jump to an intense weight-lifting session too quickly, you could injure yourself.

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But strength and conditioning coach Geoff Girvitz of Bang Fitness in Toronto says intense workouts should also be avoided before bed.

“Likewise, high-intensity sessions close to bedtime can interfere with quality of sleep,” he tells Global News. “This is a great time, on the other hand, for low and slow cardio, yoga, or anything else that helps calm your nervous system down.”

The importance of warming up

David Turnbull, owner and trainer of Turnfit Personal Training in Vancouver says in his experience, you’re better off working out in the morning.

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“We’ve seen people become more productive and less anxious when they exercise in the morning,” he tells Global News. “You’re not thinking about working out later.”

He adds if you are attempting to lift weights in the morning, warming up is crucial.

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He recommends a walk or jog before weight-lifting, or starting with smaller reps and lighter weights.

“Your joints need to be lubricated,” he says, adding that this can be done with movement before training. “With this, I can lift more weight safely at the end of the day.”

The type of exercise also matters

Boyce adds unless you are training with weights, other types of workouts like cardio or yoga shouldn’t matter if they done in the morning or evening.

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In fact, he says you’ll probably feel better if you do cardio before going to work.

But every body is different

But at the end of the day, experts can all agree: just find some time to exercise.

“There are a few considerations when it comes to choosing the best time to work out,” Girvitz says.

“The first one is simple practicality. Whatever timing works best for consistency is inevitably going to lead to the best results. Trying to ‘hack’ workouts for an incremental benefit goes right out the window when you start missing training sessions.”

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