Pros and cons: a.m. or p.m. workouts?

As we are adjusting to a fall school routine, our exercise routine must also change. But, a new schedule can bring new struggles: do I exercise before class, will I have enough time between class, work, meetings etc., or should I wait until the end of the day before or after my journey home? The honest truth is that you should exercise at the time of day you enjoy the most and will commit to doing it. But if you’re having trouble deciding or need a change, here are a few pros and cons to working out at different times of the day.

woman running outdoor on a mountain road at summer sunsetMorning workouts: if you’re a morning exerciser, morning workouts are typically the first thing you do, or within the first few hours of waking up. A tip to becoming a morning exerciser is packing your gym and work bag the night before, this will allow you to set your alarm for the last possible minute because you can just roll out of bed and go.

Pros
– Waking up and going to the gym without eating, or eating very little, provides a good start to your metabolism for the day. Just like every other part of your body, metabolism slows down at night, so a good workout to wake it up in the morning will mean you start burning more calories earlier in the day, and will likely expend a greater amount over the whole day.
– Exercise is known to help improve your mood through an increase in endorphins post exercise. Not only are you doing something good for yourself to start the day, but hopefully it puts you in a good mood for the rest of the day.
– For many, a morning workout is more about scheduling than enjoyment. Exercising in the morning allows you to be flexible if last-minute plans come up in the evening. You won’t have to fit your workout in around them.

Cons
– Morning workouts can require an early alarm time, which may mean you’re not getting enough sleep from the night prior. And you’re not doing yourself any favors hitting the snooze button.
– Muscles and the body in general may be cold and stiff from sleep, so you’ll need longer warm-up period compared to other times during the day.

Evening workouts: evening exercisers typically hit the gym on their way home, or go home and come back out later in the evening. Finding a gym that is on the way home is helpful for many to make the stop a regular part if their routine.

Pros
– An evening workout can provide great stress relief from the long, hard work day. For many it provides the opportunity to think over the day’s events and relax a little.
– Some find the benefit of fewer distractions with an evening workout. The day is over and any remaining work can wait until tomorrow. You’re not thinking or planning for the day as you might with a morning workout.
– Some feel that strength and endurance are greatest later in the day when the body has had all day to warm-up and the likelihood of injuries is decreased. This allows for some to feel an increased performance during an evening workout.

Cons
– Exercising too late into the evening can cause an increase in energy and alertness making it difficult fall asleep. Make sure to plan around your sleep habits.
– Social events with family and friends often take place in the evening, so you may feel like you’re sacrificing one or the other to make it a regular habit.

By Kimberly Burke

Kimberly Burke is the director of the Adult Fitness Program at Colorado State University, an outreach program through the Department of Health and Exercise Science. Adult Fitness offers exercise opportunities for employees of CSU as well as community members, while providing hands-on learning experiences for health promotion students. To learn more see http://hes.chhs.colostate.edu/outreach/adultfitness/

For more great health tips visit the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board.

CSU University Communications Staff