When someone says they’re a “morning workout person,” it’s as if they’re admitting they’re a superhero. Getting up with the sun to sweat is no easy task, but if you can muster the determination not to hit the snooze button on your alarm, you’ll be glad you did. Aside from the satisfaction that comes from exercising and showering before the majority of the world has gotten out of bed, there are several other significant benefits to working out in the morning.
“The best thing about working out in the morning is that it’s done and you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day,” says Tatiana Lampa, NASM, a corrective exercise specialist and trainer. “Working out at night may be difficult—especially if a meeting or commitment comes up after work.” Additionally, because the end of daylight saving time means pitch-black darkness by 5 p.m., working out in the a.m. is also your best bet for catching some rays of sunshine.
Continue reading to find out more about the benefits of working out in the morning. But don’t worry, dear reader: you’ll still reap the benefits of working out in the morning no matter how or when you move. So pick a time that works for you, whether it’s waking up with the birds, sneaking out for a lunchtime walk, or closing down the gym.
Benefits of Working Out in the Morning
Working out in the morning has numerous health benefits. If you have trouble sticking to a routine, move your workout to the morning. The following five benefits may outweigh the earlier wake-up call. According to a trainer, there are several benefits to working out in the morning.
#1. During your workout, you will feel more alert.
In the morning, your body naturally produces more of the stress hormone “cortisol.” This increases your alertness and prepares you for your workout. Because your body produces less cortisol in the evening, convincing your brain that it’s time to go, go, go may be more difficult.
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#2. You’ll be happier (thanks to endorphins, serotonin, and norphenylephrine)
Endorphins, serotonin, and norphenylephrine—the happiness-boosting neurotransmitters released by exercise—are beneficial at any time of day, but they’re especially effective on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday mornings. “While meditation, laughter, or eating chocolate do raise endorphin levels, they do not raise them as much as intense morning for an hour or more,” J. Dr. Kip Matthews says. In the morning, go for a power walk, hop on the treadmill, or ride your bike around your city, and you’ll be walking in the sun all day.
#3. You will aid your heart in its work.
Working out in the morning may also benefit those with high blood pressure, according to research (HBP). “There are studies that show that if you have high blood pressure, working out in the morning versus at night improves your HBP,” says Lampa. The 2019 study Lampa refers to was conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) and included women and men aged 55 to 80. The study also discovered that combining your early-morning workouts with frequent, brief morning walks may be even more beneficial. So remember that.
#4. You’ll develop the habit of working out.
According to the rules of habit formation, it is best to combine a new habit with an old, established one. Because most of our life-long habits occur in the morning (think: drinking coffee, brushing your teeth, washing your face, etc.), it is also easier to fit in a workout during this time. For example, you might decide to charge your wearable next to your toothbrush so you can easily strap it on and go for your morning jog.
#5. You might get more rest.
Remember the cortisol we discussed earlier? One disadvantage of working out at night is that exercise, especially moderate to high-intensity exercise, raises cortisol levels. While this can help you feel alert and ready to go in the morning, it can also cause trouble sleeping in the evening. However, research is conflicting in this area, with some studies claiming that as long as you finish your workout 90 minutes before bed, you should be able to sleep soundly.
Benefits of Working Out in the Morning Vs Night
There is a lot of conflicting research out there about the best time to exercise. Morning people claim it increases metabolism, but nighttime people claim it does not affect weight loss. People say it helps you sleep better at night, but morning people say it doesn’t. So, what is the correct response?
The correct answer is that if you set a time and stick to it, you will get in better shape and perform better. As far as we know, there is little difference in weight loss results between groups when it comes to morning and night. But what about those people who wake up early or go to the morning at the same time every day? That is when the results begin to emerge.
But how do you know which is best for you? First and foremost, don’t panic if you miss one morning or evening workout on your quest to find the perfect schedule. But keep in mind that it might not be the best time for you.
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of working out at night versus in the morning to help you decide.
The benefits of working out in the morning
- Earlier in the day, testosterone and other muscle-building hormones are higher. Wake up with your hormones and you’ll be on your way to stronger muscles faster.
- Exercise is a natural stimulant, so you can cut back on the coffee.
- Morning workouts may help you avoid cravings.
- You’ve been fasting all night, so fat is your primary energy source in the morning. —so when you exercise, you’re specifically targeting fat.
- It lowers blood pressure and, according to researchers, improves sleep.
The drawbacks of working out in the morning
- Your body is stiff when you wake up, your muscles haven’t been used, and you need to spend some serious stretching time. You are more likely to be injured if you do not.
- You may be energy deficient. Furthermore, you have lower energy stores in the morning, which may prevent you from doing an intense workout.
- The whole “boosts your metabolism” thing may not be entirely accurate. According to new research, even if you exercise in the morning, your metabolism will naturally slow down in the evening.
And what about the night owls, master schedulers, and people who simply dislike waking up early? Here are the benefits and drawbacks of working out at night.
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The benefits of working out at night
- You can work out harder and for longer periods.
- They help you relax after a long day.
- You can increase your muscle mass.
- You’ll get more rest. A body of research suggests that a hard workout at night could disrupt your circadian rhythm. That could be true for a hard cardio workout, but strength training at night has been shown to promote deeper sleep.
- From 5-8, group classes become more intense. There are more options to choose from!
The drawbacks of working out at night
- They’re simple to overlook or overlook. You have a to-do list in the afternoons, and who can blame you for skipping the workout to pick up your child from practice?
- Aerobic exercise at night can interfere with your sleep. Save the cardio for first thing in the morning.
- It’s easy to lose motivation throughout the day, and you have the most control over your workout schedule! Accept that you won’t be motivated all day and go in the mornings.
Benefits of Working Out in the Morning on an Empty Stomach
Exercising before eating may have fat-burning benefits for some people:
It’s a hot topic in the fitness world: should you eat breakfast before working out in the morning, and are there any benefits to working out on an empty stomach? The all-encompassing answer to this question, like most things about exercise, is that it depends.
“It all depends on what kind of training you’re doing and for what purpose,” says John Rowley, Wellness Director for the International Sports Science Association (ISSA). What is advantageous to one person may be detrimental to another.
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The potential to burn more fat is one of the main benefits of working out in the morning on an empty stomach. “Because your muscles don’t have much sugar to draw from, you’re more likely to tap into your stored energy, which means releasing and burning what I call surplus fat,” says Robert Ferguson, M.S., C.N.
“The less glucose in your system, the more fat you will burn,” Rowley says. Working out without fueling up, on the other hand, is probably not your best bet if your goals are performance-related (e.g., to improve strength or speed), because a lack of available energy may prevent you from putting forth your best effort.
“I would expect a person seeking to improve their physical fitness to fall short of exercise performance due to a lack of fuel to optimize their training session,” Ferguson says. Rowley adds that in this case, you’ll need more fuel for your workouts.
Ferguson also recommends eating breakfast or a small snack before your workouts if you’re diabetic or frequently experience low blood sugar, especially if you’re exercising first thing in the morning.
Whether you started your workout on an empty stomach or ate a snack beforehand, both experts stressed the importance of refueling afterward.
“When you exercise, you get a hormonal boost, so you want to replenish with food and get plenty of rest to maximize your recovery,” Ferguson says. “The higher the intensity, the more you want to eat what I call fast carbs like rice, pasta, and potatoes.”
Rowley recommends eating at least 45 minutes after exercising if your goals include muscle building and the majority of your workouts consist of strength training. “This is also an anabolic window,” he says, “so all of this fuel will go towards glycogen replacement and recovery.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Is working out in the morning better for you?
According to research, your body can adapt to consistent training schedules, so if you work out every morning, you’ll probably get a lot better at working out in the morning, and the same goes for nighttime workouts.
Is it OK to workout after waking up?
They are usually just as effective as afternoon or evening workouts. It’s certainly preferable to no exercise at all! There are some circumstances in which a later workout may be preferable. However, if you have time to warm up and believe that exercising in the morning will help you stay consistent, go for it.
How long should a morning workout be?
It should be brief and to the point.
You don’t want to overdo it and be exhausted the rest of the day, or even worse, work out so hard that your gym performance suffers. As a general rule, your morning workout should be less than 15 minutes long and low in reps.
Which time is best for workout?
Working out at 7 a.m. or between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. “It allows your circadian clock to ‘fall back,’ making it easier to wake up earlier,” Heisz says. Try working out between 7 and 10 p.m. if you need to train your body to wake up later in the morning. “The best time to exercise is whenever you have time,” Arciero says.