Workout Wednesday: The Best Time of Day to Workout


By Ben Smart

So when is the ideal time of day to exercise? In short – there isn’t one. The answer for YOU depends on an array of factors. The American Heart Association recommends “at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity.” However, there are benefits for working out at certain times. Let’s break it down.

Silhouette woman run under blue sky with clouds

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, then a morning workout could help. A recent study from Appalachian State University revealed that moderate-intensity exercise at 7am can help adults (and perhaps college students too!) sleep longer with deeper sleep cycles. And sleep is the ultimate restorative mechanism. When resting, your body repairs muscles, sorts through memories, and maintains heart health. Also – morning exercise can help with consistency. If you make the habit, you will be much likelier to stick with it. Maybe your friend who swears by a 6am run is onto something.

If high performance is your goal, then an afternoon exercise session could be the best fit. Using a group of cyclists, researchers found in another study that 6pm workouts resulted in higher performance than 6am workouts. What does this mean for you? If your preferred form of exercise is walking on the treadmill, then you can likely work out at any time of the day without much difference. However, afternoon running, biking, or swimming workouts could give you better results.

Ready to get your work out on? Check out all of the UNC fitness opportunities, including facility hours, on the brand new Campus Rec Interactive Calendar.

Photo courtesy of iStock.com

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