The best time to exerciseBy Mitch Felipe Mendoza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
When’s the best time to exercise, so you lose weight and improve performance? Even if studies have already determined the best time to exercise (morning), it is still important to consider the effects of timing on overall health, moods, fitness/weight-control goals and daily schedule, so you can sustain your physical activity.
Sleep and exercise performance
Exercising in the morning can help you burn more calories during, after and throughout the day, but if you lack sleep, it might just add more stress and even stimulate your appetite.
Always keep in mind that rest is a major component of physical wellness. The right quality and amount of sleep should be prioritized so you can maximize your workout, improve strength and endurance, and build more muscles.
Whenever I lack sleep, I don’t push myself to work out just to comply with my exercise schedule. Exercising with less than six hours of sleep causes too much physical and mental stress. Imagine the effects of sleeping for only four hours just to catch the morning run at 4 a.m. Aside from lack of energy, lack of sleep will affect your performance at work and at home.
If you want to work out early, make it a point to sleep on time. If the morning run is scheduled at 5 a.m., you should be in bed at around 8-9 p.m. to get seven to eight hours of sleep. This requires discipline, time management and proper lifestyle planning.
If you cannot get enough sleep because of your schedule, consider exercising in the afternoon or at night, as long as you still find it easy to sleep on time, because some people find it hard to sleep after an evening workout.
If you are training, then choose a schedule based on the time you will actually race. If you are training for a marathon, consider running on weekday afternoons. Studies show that we perform at our best in the afternoon, because that’s when our body temperature is ideal and our fitness level is at its peak.
But make sure you work out at least once a week (a weekend) at the same time you will run the actual race. If that’s a morning event, then you really have to make an extra effort to sleep early.
More calorie burn and more control over food
If you are trying to control your weight and can already manage your sleep, then working out in the morning can help sustain your weight loss, because studies show that morning exercisers can sustain the exercise habit on a long-term basis.
Another question that may arise for morning exercisers is the timing of meals. A study published last year in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism showed that eating a light breakfast before a morning workout can help one burn more calories even 12-24 hours after the actual workout, as compared to not eating anything at all before a workout.
Therefore, it is still better to eat something light like bread and energy bars 30 minutes to one hour before the workout to maximize the calorie burn.
A recent study published online in the October 2012 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise shows that a 45-minute moderate- to high-intensity workout in the morning can decrease one’s motivation for food. The right amount of exercise in the morning can be a good appetite regulator, as long as you eat on time and don’t overdo the exercise.
Mood improvement and stress management
In choosing the best time for exercise, you should also consider when exercising can positively influence your moods. It is true that exercising in the morning can energize you the rest of the day, but if exercising in the morning will stress you out because of the traffic on the way to work, then consider an afternoon workout.
If joining an exercise dance class can help you forget problems at work, consider working out after work.
The bottom line is to look at the important factors that will help us make exercise a lifestyle. Learning your best exercise time is an ongoing process, because your schedule will always vary. You should learn to be flexible to adjust to different situations, so you can find time to burn calories while always considering your health, recovery, energy level, lifestyle, fitness goals and overall moods.
E-mail the author at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @mitchfelipe.