Once you get into the habit, working out often becomes an integral part of your routine. After all, it is the results that speak volumes of the work you’ve been putting in. Now, a lot of us lead busy lives, and sometimes finding the time for exercise might get difficult. You may also feel that it’s either too early or too late to head out. This brings us to the question: does your workout time really matter? Let’s find out.
According to Saif Khan, an internationally certified personal trainer (NASM) and group instructor, based in Gurgaon, your workout time has an impact on your health in terms of how active you’re feeling at the particular time. “Most of us lead busy lives with our jobs and families, so there’s a good chance that there’s no fixed time to exercise, and one can at most try to squeeze in some time in between their schedule for their fitness. But, what matters is how active you feel during that set time in order to do your best. If you’re exercising at a lower energy level, the results won’t show.”
Usually, workouts in the morning are preferred by a lot of people as it gives them a head start to the day. For Siddhartha Gupta, an entrepreneur, hitting the gym in the morning works best for him as it helps him plan his day better. “My days are usually full of meetings and I find myself on the go a lot, so I make it a point to be at the gym in the first hour, around 6:30-7 AM. I do a range of exercises from cardio to strength training. I find that I have clarity of thought, and can think about how to plan my day.”
Morning workouts surely have their benefits, especially if you’re looking to lose weight. According to experts, working out on an empty stomach is ideal as it burns stored fat, which further helps speed up the process of metabolism. Additionally, Khan adds that working out in the morning can help you set a fitness routine as well as help you set a sleep schedule. “When you indulge in exercise in the morning, it boosts your mood and prevents brain fog, thus keeping your brain alert. It also gives your body enough time to tire itself out so you can sleep better,” he says.
However, there can be some potential drawbacks to watch out for. “One must not workout in the morning if their sleep cycle is out of sync, that is, they tend to be awake for the most part of the night. You wouldn’t want to tire your body out halfway through the day, which could then lead to more health problems. Adequate rest is essential to get the best results,” suggests Khan.
While it may not be a common practice, working out in the afternoon does have many takers. The general consensus is that people are better prepared, and owing to the fact that they’ve had at least one meal, will have more energy to exercise. Shabnam Sharma, managing director at an organic beauty start-up prefers getting her dose of fitness on her lunch break. “I begin my workday by 8:30 AM, so I’m mostly done with my lunch by 1:15 PM. Since my lunch breaks last from 1 to 2:30 PM, it gives me ample time to squeeze in a quick workout. Luckily for me, my office space comes with a gym, so accessibility has not been an issue for me. On the days when I’m unable to hit the gym in the afternoons, I go in the evenings, or make it a point to at least take a 10- to15-minute walk around the office complex,” she shares.
Afternoon workouts, much like morning ones are also a good way to go about weight training. Khan elaborates, “When you’re loaded up on nutrients from your meals, it gives you energy to try out the different range of exercises at the gym. Your blood sugar levels also rise, which is important when you want to try out strength training.” Moreover, he also mentions that working out in the afternoon help relieves the lethargy and stress that one might be facing after a long day at work or at home.
A likely drawback that one can face in working out in the afternoon is to break out a sweat as soon as they’re done with lunch. “It may sometimes feel that due to lack of time, you might feel like heading to the gym as soon as you’re done eating. However, working out right after eating does more harm than good. The intensity of the exercise, no matter how high or low, can cause you to feel nauseous and make you sick. So make sure there is a gap of at least 30 minutes between lunch and any physical activity,” advises Khan.
Late Evening/Night Workouts
Once you’ve wrapped up your day’s work, you could head out for a quick workout. Hemender Singh Hoon, an entrepreneur, says, “I juggle between my businesses, so I leverage the time I have after work, which is usually late evenings or night time to hit the gym. I feel it’s a good way for me to end the day, as I get tired and can fall asleep easily.”
Exercising towards the end of the day, in this case, late evening or at night can potentially help improve your sleep cycle. “If you exercise after a long day at work or home, this could aid in your sleep as you tire your body out, and also help you clear your mind off the stresses of the day.” says Avinash Mansukhani, body recomposition and transformation specialist, Fight The Sunrise Fitness.
The only probable drawback he points out is that if your adrenaline is still running high post workout, you may take time to fall asleep. “You should be mindful of the intensity of the workout. Aim for moderate workouts such as cycling, light weightlifting, swimming or walking, as these will not impact your sleep cycle adversely on the whole. You may feel jittery after your workout, but relaxing activities like yoga before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster,” he recommends.
Overall, fitness experts say that there is no ideal time to workout. It all depends on a person’s routine, preferences, and levels of energy during the day. “Workout times don't really matter. As long as the body gets the required input in terms of food in the day and gives you the optimum output in terms of exercise, your fitness level will increase. Different people workout better at different timings, depending on their lifestyle and bodies. If you’re someone who begins their day early, you can leverage from a morning workout. Similarly, if your schedule involves late nights, you can hit the gym to really use up any extra energy you may have left,” Says Mansukhani. Khan further adds that before charting out a time, it helps to better understand your body and its requirements. “Before starting any activity programme, make sure you speak to your doctor and a fitness expert to understand if you can try out certain activities and accordingly, fix up a time for exercise,” he signs off.