Even though it seems possible to train the body to operate efficiently in different daytime zones, many of people seem to have an instinctive comfort at a particular time of the day. The comfort zone seems related to the natural cycle of sleeping and waking that your body and brain control.
This body clock is known as the “circadian” clock and is an actual group of cells in the brain that emits hormones and electrical impulses according to a timing that seems to be genetically set. The hormone melatonin is the principle hormone that regulates this body clock.
Melatonin and the circadian cycle are affected by light and darkness. Now that you have some background, you need to know how this affects your fitness goals.
It seems that you can reset your body clock by manipulating waking and sleeping hours to a degree. This means that you can teach yourself to get up early and go to gym or for a run and still do a great workout.
It may take some time, however, to reset your body clock to this program if you are not used to being active early in the morning. Sports scientists say that exercise performance is closely related to body temperature, which peaks for most people in the early evening.
You may be different. And even so, the response to exercise is cyclical during the day with the early afternoon a “down” time for many people.
Further, the optimum time for exercise for you is not just determined by your body clock, but by the type of exercise, your age and health, environmental conditions such as light and heat, and social activities like meals and work patterns. If it is cooler in the morning this may outweigh any extra bounce you extract in the warm early evening.
Early morning exercisers have increased risks of heart attack and stroke, and a greater risk of damage to the spine. Late in the day exercisers have increased risk of respiratory difficulties.
These risks are probably not as great for fit, athletic people, but may be worth noting if you are undertaking a rehabilitation program or just starting out with exercise. Weight lifting in the evening may be superior for building muscle according, to research on the hormones cortisol and testosterone in weight trainers.
Cortisol is a hormone that, among other functions, helps regulate blood sugar by breaking down muscle tissue when necessary. This is called “catabolism.”
Testosterone does the opposite; it helps to build muscle by utilizing proteins. This is called “anabolism.”
Cortisol is usually highest in the early morning and lowest in the evening. Testosterone is also highest in the mornings.
The ratio of testosterone to cortisol is highest in the evening because cortisol, the muscle-breaking hormone, drops more over the day than testosterone does, providing a more anabolic, muscle-building state in the evening. Another important consideration in choosing a workout time is the normal time of your competition if you play for a competitive sport.
If your competitive activity takes place in the morning, then you should train at that time often, and at the appropriate intensity, in order to get your body used to that activity at that hour of the day. Recreational exercisers have more flexibility.
Ultimately, you should go with whatever time you feel most comfortable with and can manage considering all factors. These include your natural body clock plus social, work, health and environmental conditions as well as training and competing priorities.
The morning often suits running, walking and cardio exercise, rather than heavy weight lifting. Make sure you warm up before doing anything strenuous, especially in the morning.
Take it easy on the back for a few hours after rising. Do not hop out of bed and try for a dead lift personal best.
Weight lifting in the morning on an empty stomach is not a good idea because blood glucose can be low. Taking some food or a shake about 30 minutes before lifting can help power you through the sessions and avoid lifting in a catabolic environment
Team sports and weight lifting may benefit from evening workouts. Early evening gym sessions are popular with weight trainers.
Training too late in the evening may not be ideal for nutritional recovery and sleep patterns. Some trainers find that doing cardio in the morning and weight lifting in the evening works well for them.
Ronald Pedactor has worked in the exercise and health industry for 31 years. When searching for a good deal on exercise equipment he suggests getting someone knowledgeable to compare treadmills, and tell you their qualities.