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What Time Should I Exercise?

Quartz clock with neon
Quartz clock with neon ©stock.xchng/Dmitry

“What time should I exercise?” is one of the most common questions I hear when it comes to people integrating a new fitness program into their daily routines.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there about this topic so let’s dive into the question.


A study by the Uludag University in Turkey published in 2002 by Sekir, Özyener and Gür , Effect of Time of Day on the Relationship Between Lactate and Ventilatory Thresholds, showed that 7 moderately active, male participants did not show any major difference in lactate or ventilatory thresholds based upon the time of day they performed exercise on cycle ergometer.  On the other hand an article on CNN.com by Stephanie Smith in 2004, Experts disagree on ideal time of day to exercise, reported that neurologist, Phyllis Zee, believed “[t]he best time to work out [was] in the late afternoon”.  Dr. Zee indicated that the circadian rhythms of the body determine the most effective times for performance and late afternoon was the best.  Circadian rhythms also control your body temperature and it is typically higher in the afternoon which may boost productivity and lessen injuries.

The average person has a lot on their plate.  Work, kids, and various commitments can make it hard to squeeze exercise in so the short answer to when you should exercise is ANYTIME!  That’s right – you can exercise anytime as long as you do it consistently.  Consistency is really a major component to a long term, successful exercise program.  If you find it is easier to get up 45 minutes every day to exercise then do that.  If your lunch break provides enough time to get through your routine then work out then.  If you have time when you get off work then strap on your shoes and get moving.  If you find that a combination of different times throughout the week is best for you then stick to that schedule.

Note how you  feel when you exercise at different times.  Some people really enjoy the energizing feeling you get from starting your day with a workout.  Some people find that exercise is a wonderful tension reliever after a hard day at work.  You will start to notice how exercise makes you feel once you get into a routine.  If one particular time of day seems to boost the way you feel then try to make that your set exercise time every day.

So what about that conflicting information?  Don’t worry about it.  Consistent exercise at anytime is far better for you than not working out at all.  Do what feels best and works for your situation.