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What time of day do you prefer to work out?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A few years ago (before SparkPeople), when I realized that I was becoming overweight and knew that I was out of shape, I joined the gym that I now belong to. I had a group of friends who were members, one of whom was big into fitness.

My friends convinced me that early morning was the best time of day to work out. Apparently, the thought at that time was that exercise in the morning was a great jump start to your day. It "woke the body up" in a sense and sharpened the mind, similar to a cup of coffee. According to my fitness friend, the fitness community thought at that time that working out in the morning had the most positive benefit to the metabolism, and that working out later in the day could actually have a negative effect.

Since I wanted to improve my metabolism, I forced myself to climb out of bed at 5:15 so that I could be at the gym by 5:40. I worked out from 5:40 to 6:40, then showered and got dressed for work in the ladies dressing room. I'll admit that I did learn to enjoy spending time with the same group of ladies 3-4 mornings a week as we would do our strength training together or work out on the elliptical or treadmill, but honestly, I never loved climbing out of bed an hour earlier than my night-owl body wanted to. Also, I discovered that I had to have my cup of coffee before going to the gym in order to be awake enough to not hurt myself on the equipment. After nine months of working out 3-4 mornings a week (but not watching calories), my body felt more tone, but I had not lost (or gained) any weight, nor had my more tone body caused me to drop a pants size; therefore the body wasn't much tighter, as I would have hoped. Eventually, I quit going to the gym, and at the end of that year's membership, I let it lapse.

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About six months later, I joined SparkPeople and got serious about losing the weight through healthy eating and nutrition with calorie tracking. When the weight-loss plateaued, I joined an afternoon exercise class and suddenly discovered that this was the time that my body seemed to love to exercise! The remainder of my weight came off and my body got tone. I ultimately dropped 3 pants sizes with the 25 pound weight loss. Since then, I've rejoined Healthtrax (our local gym) and participate in a different exercise class up to 5 times a week. Though they have a 6 a.m. class, I always go to one that starts at 4:30 or 5:30 PM, and continue to love the way the late afternoon classes give me the energy I need to complete my evening work, but still be ready for bed when our home shuts down for the evening.

I'm a night owl and it makes sense for me to not try to push myself early in the morning when I'm trying to "slip into the day." Plenty of people love the morning, and face each day with a smile and lots of energy. I'd love to hear your experience. When do you prefer to exercise? If you post a blog entry about your favorite exercise time, please send me the link. Otherwise, I'll enjoy reading your comments here.

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For your interest, I'm linking a CNN Health article below. It is titled: Experts disagree on ideal time of day to exercise.

Have a great week, Spark Friends!

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I prefer mornings, but don't always get that accomplished. I find too many other things get in the way if I try to do it after work. Or I'm too tired. If I work out after work I do it right when I get home. If I sit down, I'm done!
    2506 days ago
    When I was working full time I would gewt up at 0530 and be at the gym from 0600 to 0700, shower at the gym and go to work from there. I hated trying to get dressed as I would still be perspiring from the exercise. Now that I am home full time, I exercise according to the weather and prefer to get out by 9am. If not I go out later in the evening! We have day light till 9pm so it gives me a big window of the day to get out! I don't belong to a gym here so use walking and climbing the fire escape stairs for cardio and I have weights here at home and do strength training via Sparkpeople videos on the computer! emoticon When I go back to Aus for a feww months I will try and go to Curves as there is one within walking distance from my house. I will also be walking the dogs!
    2506 days ago
    Very cool - I'm a morning person, so if I don't exercise then, it doesn't happen.
    Have to admit, I haven't tried the afternoon and may do so on those hectic morning days.
    emoticon for the info.
    2506 days ago
  • SILLYHP1953
    I had never liked getting up in the morning, probably because I never went to bed early enough to get the amount of hours of sleep I needed. But in the last 3-4 years I've started getting up earlier and going to bed earlier...but exercise in the morning? I can manage a light to medium workout for maybe 10-15 minutes, but nothing major. I do get up at 5:30 am every weekday morning and meditate for 20 minutes, that seems to work for me. Right now I haven't really determined the best time for me to exercise because I haven't gotten consistent enough for by body to let me know what it feels!
    2506 days ago
    i am a night owl, also, but i work out in the evenings because my job begins so early. i have to be at work shortly after 7 a.m., and i have a 30 minute commute. i just can't make myself get up at 4 a.m. to work out. i do think i'd be in a better mood and more energetic in the mornings if i could work out before work, though. although i'm okay with working out at night, i think that it leaves me open to more of a chance of procrastinating and not getting in my workout, which definitely happens sometimes.
    2506 days ago
    Interesting subject and observations Diane.

    I'm a night owl and a couch potato by nature!

    My main exercise in brisk walking - which I feel I can do and enjoy without it feeling like an imposition - and I do a minimum of 10,000 steps a day. I always try to do a quick 2,000 before I leave for work and then spread the rest of the steps during the day in bursts of 2,000, but with at least one session of 30 minutes. I often do more than the 10,000 but if there's a shortfall I catch up late at night.

    I sometimes still feel a bit of a fraud in SP with all the gym bunnies like you but I do enough to keep the blood pressure and sugar down and the pounds off and then follow progress of my more physical friends like you with awe and admiration!

    Thanks for being such a positive inspiration.

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    2507 days ago
    It's great that you've found what works for you.I workout after work.It helps me relax
    2507 days ago
  • RONI122
    When I didn't have to be at work until 7:30 am I loved working out in the morning before work. I felt excited that I had completed my exercise and I did have more energy to get my day rolling. Now I work at 6:00 am and can not hardly drag myself out of bed to get to work. My favorite time would be around 6:30 pm now. emoticon
    2507 days ago
    I, like you, prefer the afternoon, I think it depends on yourself and as someone wrote that it doesn't matter when you do it, as long as you do it! Have a great week!
    2507 days ago
    Great question. I do both where during the week I workout in the evenings and mornings on the weekend.
    2507 days ago
    To answer the question, I actually like morning exercise, because I am a natural "morning person". However, depending on the length and nature of the workout, I switch off... I read somewhere that strength training was better in the evening, when your muscles are warm from the day's activities.

    Funny how these recommendations change over time.

    2507 days ago
    I am a morning person all the way. Even though I am an insomniac and can fit exercise into both ends of my very long days, my body is much fresher and more ready to go in the morning. I have been doing my Latin Dance DVD at night though, and loving it :) Breaks up the hours on the computer..
    2507 days ago
    I would walk into walls in the mornings!!! I do my walking during my lunch hour at work or right before I come home - I am lucky to have a gym there at the church where I work, and my walking doesn't make me so sweaty that I need a shower. I will ride my trike when I get home when the time, NOT mornings, to answer your question!!
    2507 days ago
    Interesting - when I was young I used to work out at night, in my thirties it was in the afternoon and now it is in the morning. My thought is that it doesn't matter when just as long as we do it! emoticon
    2507 days ago
    Great blogg emoticon

    I am never able to get out of bed in the morning, and if I had to do so for my workouts I would feel like a failure very quickly as I know myself and I know I wouldnt be able to continue for long.

    I work out between 5pm and 7pm depending on the time of year and the heat. In the summer it tends to be later and in winter I enjoy doing my workout round about 5pm then having a hot shower. That way I am nice and warm for the coldest part of the day, and ready to relax enjoy how my body feels and eat a late dinner to get my proteins straight after workouts. emoticon
    2507 days ago
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