If you ask someone when is the best time of day to work out, you are likely to get different responses. Why? Simply put, because everyone is different. Also, the time of day you exercise varies sometimes is dependent upon what you are trying to achieve and how your day looks outside of the workout.
Best Time to Workout? Keep Reading!
✓ Morning Workouts
Morning workouts are great if you just like to start the day by checking an important item off your list. Getting your workout in early can set the tone for the rest of your day! Many people prefer a morning workout.
Reported benefits of this practice include more energy for the day, feeling accomplished, eating better, sleeping better, and not having to worry about fitting it in.
Average Joes Speak Up:
Alissa Tamblyn states that she prefers to cross-train in the morning and run after work. Cross-training may include weights, rowing or yoga. “There’s just something about burning a rough day off on the pavement that I love.” Many runners report that running after work is an exceptional stress reliever for them.
Kim Johnson runs before the sun has even come up. She states she used to run later in the day, but found the heat bothered her. Switching to early, early morning workouts means she does not have to put up with heat, there is no traffic to contend with, and she has the rest of the day to rehydrate and fuel. Although she does find she sleeps better, she also is in bed by 9:00 p.m. every evening. Another downside is she finds she has to run alone most of the time.
✓ Mid Morning Workouts
If you don’t work out well on an empty stomach, a mid-morning workout may be best for you. One question many athletes have is how long should they wait to work out after eating? It depends on how big the meal is.
Most people can complete a pretty vigorous workout 30 minutes or so after a snack. If it is an actual meal, however, the runner may need more like two to three hours.
Average Joe Speak Up:
Katerina Calfo states that a mid-morning workout allows her to “wake up naturally, go through her routine and slowly get the body moving before heading out.”
✓ Mid Day Workouts
Benefits of a mid-day workout include not having to get up extra early and providing a break in the workday. If you can manage to use your lunch for a workout and clean up and get back to your desk in time to get cranking away at your obligations, you will likely return more productive and with a fresh perspective. Of course, the opposite can also happen. You could end up feeling rushed and frantic.
Lunchtime workouts mean you do need to figure out a time to, well, EAT! For this reason, lunchtime workouts seem to work best for people who either have a flexible job or a desk space where they can work and eat simultaneously. Some people report returning to work feeling ravenous, while others say that the noon workout pushed them to eat sensibly.
Average Joe Speaks Up:
Therese Schweyer prefers a lunchtime workout. She feels it is a “great opportunity to step away from the desk and clear the head.” A busy mom, Therese found that she didn’t want to be gone from home additional hours so she started packing a gym bag stocked with a full set of clothes, a towel, toiletries, etc. She repacks the bag each night so it is ready to go the next morning. Therese is fortunate to have shower access at work so she can quickly rinse off if needed, but she finds baby wipes are surprisingly effective. Pro-tip from Therese: pack extra stuff (underwear, workout socks, a washcloth) so you are always ready to roll.
✓ Early Evening Workouts
Some runners feel that after work but before dinner is the best time to workout. This helps to work off the stress of the day. I am one of those runners. As an administrator in a busy, rural 5K – 12 school, my day is chaotic and often stressful. Putting on running shoes and hitting the pavement before heading home helps to clear my head and provide some closure to the day. I keep a rack with workout gear on it, a small chest of drawers so there are clothing choices for all weather possibilities and spare shoes. In addition, a small bucket of toiletries gives me the opportunity to freshen up if I choose to run after school but before an event like a board meeting or basketball game. “Life is all about making opportunities instead of excuses.”
✓ Before Bed Workouts
Many people feel working out before bed will keep them awake and for many runners this is true. However, for others, these evening runs and exercises work out great for them!
Kaelea Tewksbury of Colchester, CT has children at home so she runs around 8:00 p.m. once her children are in bed. This allows her to find time for herself without missing time with her children. She feels she sleeps better when she runs at night.
✓ Fitting It In Whenever You Can
Fire Fighters are NOT Average Joes!
Steve Campbell: When you’re a busy firefighter, you fit in the workout wherever and whenever you can. Working 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off duty means you will most likely end up working out at the fire station. Campbell reports that he could be in workout gear one second getting a lift in, and jumping into turnout gear the next. “When the tones go off, we have 45 seconds to leave with the rigs,” which keeps life exciting. (As if running into fires isn’t exciting enough.)
Campbell is a marathoner who also teaches fitness classes at the local YMCA when he isn’t acting as Assistant Chief at the Marinette Fire Department in Marinette, WI.
Doug Hoy: Hoy is a firefighter who works 48 hours on and 72 hours off. “During the Covid-19 pandemic, things have become challenging. Access to the firehouse gym has been taken away because of COVID-19 concerns. In an effort to get my runs in, I ran the hallway from one end of the building to the other and back. My watch said I completed 3.3 miles in an hour. My manual calculations indicate nearly 4.6 miles. (1 lap = 328 feet x 75 laps = 24,600 feet divided by 5280 feet per mile = 4.6 miles).”
Training for an Ironman means you have to be willing to do hard things under difficult circumstances, including running laps around the firehouse then sliding on turnout gear while dripping with sweat.
So What’s The Verdict?
In case you haven’t noticed, there is no verdict. When debating what is the best time to workout, everyone has a different answer. And you know what? They’re all right.