It is no secret, aerobic exercise is an effective way to burn calories, lose weight, relieve stress and improve overall cardiovascular health.
But did you know the time of day you perform aerobics can enhance your results and improve overall wellness? So, the question is, “When exactly is the best time for aerobic exercise?”
If you’ve ever been to the gym at 5 o’clock on a weekday afternoon, you might have taken notice of the crowded parking lots outside major fitness centers.
The majority of the population prefers working out in the late afternoon, or early evening after putting in a hard day’s work at the office.
With crowded cardio equipment and packed aerobics classes clogging up the studio floor, you may have found yourself looking towards alternatives.
But don’t give up before considering a shift in routine. Doing a cardiovascular workout first thing in the morning actually hosts a variety of additional benefits and you may find the equipment and the gym much less crowded.
Benefits of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic movement is essential to improved heart health, circulation and immune system function. It regulates blood sugar, lowers your risk of many diseases and is the key factor in helping you lose weight.
At a moderate intensity, aerobic activity, more commonly known as “cardio”, performed 3-5 days a week for 30 minutes each day can help improve heart health and facilitate weight loss.
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Best Time to Exercise for Weight Loss
Rise and shine! You’ve decided to do cardio exercise at the recommended frequency to facilitate optimal health. You’ve put on your gym clothes, you got the best shoes for aerobic exercise and are ready to get moving.
But did you know that performing this type of exercise at the start of your day holds greater success in both weight loss and fat loss?
A morning mindset can actually help your physical development in several ways
First of all, when you awaken each day, your body is in what is known as a fasted state.
This means you have nothing queued up in your digestive system fr the past 6 to 8 hours that require attention, therefore rendering your stomach and digestive tract empty.
Performing aerobics at this time can help boost weight loss results because, in a fasted state, you will tap into stored fat in order to fuel activity. This means greater weight loss and more fat loss.
It is also shown that morning cardio while fasted can help get rid of the fat in highly troubled areas, such as visceral, or stomach fat.
It is more effective than movement at other times of the day, making early morning the optimal time to shed unsightly and unhealthy belly fat.
This is due largely to an increase in blood flow created by aerobic activity that is channeled to these troubled areas in combination with the targeted fat burn associated with activities in a fasted state.
Even in a non-fasted state, meaning you have consumed a light meal or a smoothie, morning aerobics still burns calories, fat and primes the metabolic system to burn more efficiently throughout the day.
It provides a greater calorie burn throughout the day. Morning aerobics also helps reduce hunger and cravings, which can lead to snacking and of course, weight gain.
Increased metabolism and reduced food intake is a sure-fire way to help with overall weight loss!
Compared to a morning run or an aerobic exercise class, lunchtime activity actually has weight loss benefits as well. There is an additional calorie burn off an extra 10% if cardio exercise is performed between 1 pm and 4 pm.
When focused on calorie reduction, every percentage point counts.
Plus, a lunchtime workout can help stave off the afternoon doldrums and lulls that also create increased snacking habits.
Instead of a 2 pm sprint to the vending machine to grab a sugary pick-me-up snack or energy drink, you may find yourself making healthier snack choices and feeling a greater sense of confidence, both of which directly contribute to your health and weight loss.
Best Time for Aerobics for Improved Sleep Function
Cardiovascular exercise performed first thing in the morning can facilitate improved sleep patterns. Poor health and obesity are both directly linked to individuals (especially for beginners and athletes) with erratic sleep schedules, shift workers and night owls.
Getting into a morning routine, beginning with cardio exercise, can help adjust the natural circadian rhythm or body clock, and therefore directly improve overall health and wellness.
In addition, this habit over time will help you wake up more energized earlier each day, feel a greater sense of alertness throughout the day and even fall asleep earlier, faster, thereby improving the overall quality of restorative sleep.
It is a proven fact that regular cardiovascular activity helps you sleep better.
Due to improved sleep patterns, your mental cognition and overall energy levels are also positively impacted via morning cardio as alluded to in Matthew Walker’s epic book, “Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams” which you can find on Amazon.
You may feel as though you have greater clarity and drive, possessing a renewed ability to complete additional tasks and take care of responsibilities you might not have been able to tackle before.
You may feel as though you can take on the world with a new level of performance and confidence.
You can also reap the benefits of improved sleep by moving your aerobic workout to midday.
Although the clarity affiliated with a morning routine may not be as present, lunchtime workouts have been shown to reduce and even eliminate the afternoon energy collapse that seems to impact many in the working population.
This can help improve productivity later in the afternoon and even into the evening hours.
Even though the vast majority of people work out in the evening do so for convenience’s sake, working out after 4 pm or for some, even later in the evening, this can actually have a negative impact on sleep patterns and quality.
The enhanced energy levels affiliated with cardiovascular activity earlier in the day can actually delay natural fatigue necessary for restorative sleep by keeping energy levels elevated and prevent you from falling asleep at a decent hour.
This may be even more prevalent in populations who already suffer from sleep issues. As we have highlighted, reduced sleep quality and time are often linked to weight gain, obesity and an increase in disease and negative health issues.
Best Time for Aerobics for Overall Health and Wellness
An additional benefit to tackling the cardio in tandem with the rising sun is that it holds a double dose of natural anti-depressant relief.
Spending 30 minutes in the rising morning sunshine each day has been clinically proven to vastly improve, if not completely heal the episodes of depression.
This is even more important during the gloomier winter months, where longer periods of light exposure is essential to mental health.
The benefits are primarily due to the production of Vitamin D, which keeps your immune functions healthy and encourages the production of Seratonin, or our natural mood-enhancing hormone. Of course, using bright lights, or approximately 10,000 lux, can have similar benefits if used first thing in the morning.
Morning sunshine helps signal the brain to perform optimally in terms of hormone functions and it allows us to ingest as much of the sun’s bright healing light as possible without the negative impact of midday sunshine or high heat exposure.
In addition, regular aerobic movement such as walking or gardening is directly associated with reducing and treating depression. Just 30 minutes of movement a day is the number one natural cure for depression.
For those suffering from mild to moderate depression, getting outside or exercising in the direct morning sunshine can be a natural and inexpensive way to provide relief and even a potential cure.
Other wellness benefits associated with morning activities are a decreased risk in dementia-related brain issues, increase focus, a reduction of chronic pain throughout the day due to the endorphins and overall improved mental and physical health.
In addition to the performance and fat loss benefits, opting for an early start will also help free up the afternoon to tackle unforeseen tasks, make schedule adjustments and even free up your evening to relax with loved ones, family or in absolute solitude because the workout is already done.
This helps with relieving stress, which is the number one contributor to illness and the top contenders for early death.
Best Time for Aerobic Activity at the Gym
Many people enjoy the comfort and convenience of working out in a gym setting, with numerous cardio options available in one location. Despite the popular belief, the best time to do this is in the morning!
Cardio equipment is typically free during the early morning hours, leaving open a variety of different options. Even the gyms who have specialized cardio equipment rooms tend to be much less crowded at the start of the day.
Indoor tracks, swimming pools and fitness classes all see fewer numbers during the daybreak hours, making it a better time to get in your cardio if you want to avoid the crowds and congestion.
Many fitness facilities will have specialty classes during the morning hours as well.
This allows for participants to engage in a new skill without feeling overwhelmed or confused. It opens up a greater opportunity to as questions and to optimize your own goals.
Aerobics at Other Times of the Day
Although a morning routine may be the perfect way to begin the fitness day, it’s not for everyone. In fact, working out at half-intensity due to fatigue and low energy in the morning may negate any calorie burn or fat loss benefits associated.
If an A.M. workout is not a fit for you, many of the health and weight loss benefits can still be realized by taking on a midday cardio workout routine instead, including weight loss, improved energy and mood enhancement.
Although there are contrary opinions regarding evening cardio, I do not recommend doing any strenuous exercise within 2 hours prior to sleep.
Intense evening cardio can create problems falling asleep and it can negatively impact your ability to stay asleep.
Working out in the evening can also create an increase in hunger, which may cause late-night food consumption.
Although it’s not bad to eat a small snack prior to going to sleep, the body’s energy is primarily focused on your digestive system and this can lead to lowered immunities, lack of healing and of course, a reduction in sleep quality.
Sticking to an early evening or afternoon routine would be an excellent alternative to morning workouts.
Best Time to Exercise: Morning or Evening
Overall, the best time to perform aerobic exercise and receive maximum benefits is in the morning. If you aren’t a morning person and have no desire to make this change, the next best time is anytime throughout the day you feel comfortable and can be consistent with your workout routine.
If you are waking up early with the intention of working out, but only making a couple of workouts each week, then how consistent are you in meeting the weekly requirements for maximum benefits?
Furthermore, if you are able to squeeze in a small workout at the end of the day, this is better than no workout at all! A consistent routine is a key to overall health and wellness,
As with any nutrition or exercise plan, consult with a trusted medical professional to see if morning cardio is good for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF THE DAY TO EXERCISE?
The morning provides the greatest overall benefits; however, the best time is anytime where you can stay in a consistent routine.
WHAT IS AEROBIC EXERCISE?
Any movement that uses oxygen to create an increased effort and gets the heart rate pumping between 50% and 70% of your maximum heart rate.
HOW LONG SHOULD I PERFORM AEROBICS TO GAIN MAXIMUM RESULTS?
The recommendation is 30 minutes a day of consistent aerobic activity to reap the benefits. Maximum results can be attained by increasing either the intensity level (how hard you work) or the duration (how long you work) of the exercise.
WHAT IS THE BEST CARDIO EXERCISE TO LOSE WEIGHT?
There is no panacea of cardio benefits affiliated with one exercise. A consistent routine that combines aerobic exercise, strength training and a nutritional eating plan is the best foundation for weight loss. Anything that helps keep you at a higher level of intensity also has the potential to help burn calories quicker.