Monday, 28 November 2011

Is there a best time of day to exercise?
After the children got older and I went back to work I always do my training in the morning, either before breakfast or after. This works best for me now because of family commitments and work. Even though I like sleeping-in, I am managing my biological clock by setting the alarm and got the body used to the early morning training sessions.
One of the top reasons people give for not exercising regularly is lack of time. For many people the best time to exercise is the time that is most convenient and the time that fits into a busy schedule.
Research on exercise and the time of day is growing, but still limited. In general, if you can find a time for exercise that you can stick with consistently, you will be much more likely to train regularly and get better results.
Human sleep and wake cycles follow a daily cycle called circadian rhythms. It's this cycle that regulates our body temperature, blood pressure, alertness and metabolism, among other physiological functions. In general, these rhythms conform to our 24-hour day but may be reset due to your work and family environment. Research by the University of North Texas found that although circadian rhythms are inborn we can reset them based upon our behaviors. For example, using an alarm clock, establishing meal times, and even when we workout are all ways to help rest our rhythms. They found that people who consistently exercised in the morning "teach" their body to be most ready for exercise at that time of day. When they switched to evening exercise they didn't feel as strong and not as motivated.

Some people are just naturally morning people. They have no trouble exercising fist thing in the morning. Others don't get moving so quickly and are more likely to feel like exercising later in the day. If you have such an obvious preference it's pretty easy to decide what sort of exercise schedule you might stick with. The interesting thing is that research shows that no matter when you think you are better able to exercise almost all of us are physically stronger and have more endurance in the late afternoon.

But most importantly, if we are not training for the Olympic Games, whatever time during the day you can do your training and stick to it that’s when you are going to do your training.

While there is specific research being conducted on this topic, unfortunately the answer to the question, "What is the best time for exercise?" varies based upon the specific question you ask, your training goals, your work commitment, family commitment, but they do have some conclusions:
·         Morning Exercisers Are More Consistent
Even though afternoon exercise might be optimal from a physiological standpoint, research also shows that morning exercisers are more likely to stick to it than late-day athletes.
·         Evening Exercise and Sleep
Does exercising too late in the evening keep you up? Studies have shown improvements in sleep from both morning and afternoon exercise, so it's not yet clear if evening exercise keeps you up. Most research supports the idea that exercise can improve sleep quality, and again it all depends on how your body works. If you can do a moderate intensity training session and then go to bed and have a good night sleep, great go for it!

The good news is that you get to decide the best time for you to exercise based upon your personal goals, schedule and lifestyle. Ideally, you will pick a time that you are able to stick with consistently and make part of your daily or weekly schedule.

Yours in Health & Fitness,


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