When I was in college, I had a bunch of friends who were involved in athletics. Every day, Monday through Friday, all teams would meet at 6am for sports conditioning. I was more interested in playing the social scene than playing sports at the time, so it was unfathomable to get out of bed that early to exercise. The 6am workouts didn’t include any sort of sport-specific training they’d have to do for their teams later in the day. It was pure insanity to me back then. Funny how things change.

A few years later, I started catching the fitness bug. It didn’t totally take me over, and there was still no way I was going to get my butt out of bed to be at the gym by 6am, but I would manage to find time to workout after work.

Several years later, my passion for fitness had evolved significantly due to a series of events that completely changed my life.  Before I had kids, I would get out of bed at 4:50 to be at the gym no later than 5:15. I’d get my workout in before work and feel great. Needless to say, I hit the sack early enough, too. But I was in a groove and it worked for several years.

Fast forward to kids. After having one child, I managed a decent amount of motivation to get up each and every day quite early, making it into workout on the days that my husband would hang around long enough in the morning for me to get home. I started peppering in mid-morning workouts, which accommodated my life as a mom much better. After having two kids, I was wiped out. My second was a horrible sleeper, which took a toll on my ability (and desire) to get up that early. My workouts were relegated to mid-morning. A crazy-busy time at the gym filled with moms just like me, trying to juggle motherhood and their health. Now I’m a “combo” worker-outer, doing early morning and mid-morning workouts! Hey, it works.

That’s my story, but is there a better time to work out than another?

The best time to workout

The short, boring answer: exercise is good for you – no matter when you do it.

The long, technical, geeky answer: Different times of day have shown different benefits. Here’s the scoop.

Morning workouts

  • Early risers are much more likely to get their workout in for the day without making excuses.
  • Early risers also show better sleep patterns at night.

Mid-Morning workouts

  • You usually have a chance to eat a decent breakfast, which will help boost energy for your workout
  • Mid-morning (and early morning) exercise helps to curb cravings a little bit more than any other time of the day

Afternoon workouts

  • Afternoon and midday gym-goers show more stamina and endurance
  • Afternoon workouts have been shown to produce more testosterone than at any other time. This is beneficial to the bodies of BOTH men and women.

Evening/Late Night workouts

  • Working out in the evening can disrupt sleep, so if possible – and if your workout involves high intensity (fast running, heavy lifting, Crossfit) – try to get the workout in before 6 or 7pm. Later than that, you might miss out on a valuable sleep cycle (we go through roughly 3 a night).
  • On the upside, you get to sleep in a little longer in the morning (hopefully) and get to enjoy a much-deserved post-workout meal.

Want more tips like this? Traci D Mitchell is a healthy living and fitness expert. Follow Traci on Facebook. She’d love to see you there! Interested in working with Traci? She works privately with clients specializes in nutrition coaching and weight loss as well as functional fitness and personal training. All sessions are done via Skype or telephone if outside of Chicago. For more information, contact Traci here.