Health goals are personal. We’re all trying to achieve different things and have different concerns. Working out different ways can achieve different goals. Drinking coffee before exercising can help your results. That might make you lean toward exercising in the morning, especially if you are someone who feels the effects of caffeine. Exercising in the morning may also be best for the heart. However, you’ll get different health benefits if you feel more energy in the evening. The latest studies say that exercising later in the day might be best for blood sugar.
The newest study about when to exercise gives morning exercise another plus. According to researchers, morning workouts might be better for weight loss.
For the study, more than 5,200 adults wore accelerometers to track their activity levels. The researchers also studied two years of surveys about the people’s exercise, diets and lifestyle habits. People who exercise in the morning had lower BMIs than people who exercise in the afternoon or evening.
The researchers stressed that it was observational and that people who exercised differently were from different backgrounds. People who exercised early tended to be a decade older than the later exercises. They were mostly white women with college degrees who didn’t drink or smoke. They stuck to a routine, exercised at the same time every day and ate fewer calories. However, interestingly, they were more sedentary throughout the rest of the day than others. While the study is interesting, race, sex, diet, consistency or habits could all be significant factors in their BMIs.
Morning workouts may lend themselves to a more consistent routine. Prof. Ross Andersen of McGill Univ. wasn’t involved with the study but shared his thoughts. He said he always tells his patients to workout in the mornings because it’s easier to stick to it.
Researchers also speculated that exercising early may reset people’s internal clock and aid sleep health. It might also help metabolic health if you exercise before breakfast.
“Our metabolism doesn’t just return to baseline after a tough workout, it remains a little higher. If people are walking around most of the day with a higher metabolic rate, it’s a good thing,” said Prof. Andersen.
“People get in the weeds about how to do things’ perfectly,’ but the reality is that we should focus on consistently moving our bodies regularly throughout the day and aim to get our heart rates elevated,” said Dr. Diana Thiara. She is the medical director at UCSF Weight Management Clinic and an assistant clinical professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCSF. “Consistency is key — perfection can be a hindrance.”
Dr. Thiara pointed out that there was no control over how many calories people ate. That is a huge factor in BMI. As all the study participants ate different diets, cherry-picking variables doesn’t work. It could be that exercising early in the day makes you less hungry later. But maybe women on a diet kickstarted their day with a workout.
If you can find a time of day that works for you to exercise, that’s great. Consistency appears to be essential in many studies. The fact is, working movement into your day makes you healthier. Many studies seem to agree that the morning may be a great time to exercise. But it isn’t conclusive. And, even if it is proven to be the optimal time, if you can only exercise in the afternoon or evening, those are the perfect time for you.