Over the years as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor I have had many clients ask when is the optimal time to exercise? Is there the perfect time that is going to make sure my workout burns the most fat? There are of course many theories encouraging particular times of the day, but when exercise programmes have such a high occurrence of drop out regardless of the time of day, you have to wonder if there is something more important than the time of day you put your running shoes on or climb onto a Pilates Reformer.
I have summed up some of the pros and cons of exercising at different times of the day, and hope you can find one that best suits you!
Early Bird Gets the Worm – Morning workout
Research indicates that getting your exercise in before time pressures interfere, for some people gives them a greater chance to adhering to their programme for longer. There tend to be fewer classes in gyms and exercises studios, but that also means the classes are usually much smaller and you get more attention. Fancy a 7.30am Multi-Level Pilates class next week? You’re almost guaranteed a small class!
The downside of an early morning workout is that you will need to get out of bed around 90 minutes earlier than usual…
Workaround: Set your morning workout once or twice per week in your schedule and stick to it like any other appointment (you wouldn’t miss your hair appointment!). Remind yourself how good you feel to starting your day with a quick burst of exercise.
Skip That Food Court – Lunchtime workout
Getting your exercise done at lunchtime is ultra convenient as it’s close to the office, it helps to break up the day and gets you moving to refresh your mind for the rest of the afternoon. It also means that when you finish work, you have the freedom to socialise with friends and family.
The cons of a workout during lunch, is that it’s easy for things to come up last minute such as meetings and urgent deadlines. Also, if you work up a sweat you have to shower and re-apply make-up which takes more time.
Workaround: Book the class into your personal schedule to give yourself that extra boost of commitment and then if your schedule is free, call and book into the class. Our new Express Classes are ideal for a lunchtime workout as they are 45 minutes, and as Pilates is conditioning rather than a cardio workout, any makeup should stay in place.
A Post-Office Stress Reliever – Evening workout
I know of one of our clients who exercises after midnight, as she works late and finds that it’s the quietest and most focused time for her. You don’t have to go to that extreme, but gyms and exercise studios tend to have a greater range of classes in the evening and it may also be easier to find a friend to exercise with you rather than a 7am jog around Marina bay!
Its easy for other time demands to get in your way including a last minute deadline or conference call, and dinner with friends seems so much more appealing! Also, you are much more likely to change your mind if you have had a particularly tiring or demanding day.
Workaround: Commit to after-work exercise with a friend or colleague, many studies have show that exercising with buddy improves adherence.
Are there biological differences in working out at different times of the day?
Possibly, however the biggest influencer on achieving results is consistency.
You don’t have to be an expert on circadian rhythms to discover the best time to exercise. Have a good look at your schedule to see what times are you least likely to have your time diverted to other important parts of your life. Consistency is the key to results in any exercise regime, so finding the time and the type of exercise that gives you the least reason to choose to do something else is vital!
– Daniel Dittmar, Director and Head Instructor