The Best Time of Day to Exercise


Yes, coffee can give your workout a jolt. But if your workouts have been lagging lately, there might be an even better way to perk up:

Tap into your natural energy peaks.

Circadian rhythms

I use my circadian rhythm (hatred of mornings) as a guide (excuse) for everything I do. Still, circadian rhythms are legitimate predictors of perkiness.

Your circadian rhythm is that roughly-24-hour biochemical cycle which ebbs and flows— typically ebbing at night and flowing during the day— and regulates your physical state and behavior. Nobody’s circadian rhythm is exactly the same. Morning people have shorter cycles and night owls have longer cycles. Most people are somewhere in between.

That means everyone’s optimum time of day is different.

How does your circadian rhythm alter your workout routine? The answer to this question has to do with body temperature.

How body temperature affects exercise

Circadian rhythms regulate body temperature. Most people have lower body temps at night and higher body temps during the day.

In a nutshell, lower body temps make you sleepy while higher temps make you more active. At a higher body temperature, you’re more energetic, alert, and coordinated. That means you’re more likely to have a better physical performance and more productive workouts (ACE Fitness).

Interestingly, it’s not common for a body temperature to peak in the morning. A morning person’s body temp is highest in the afternoon, and a night person’s peaks in the evening. Physically, then, morning might not be the ideal time for anyone to exercise.

Science aside…

Although your body temp might not be soaring in the a.m., I’m going to wager that morning is the best time to exercise regardless of your circadian rhythm. Morning, or first thing in the day— whether your day starts at 7 a.m. or 4 p.m.

For one, working out first thing is a good way to make sure your workout happens. Getting up early to exercise is a drag, but you know what’s even more of a drag? Going to work, walking the dog, doing laundry, watching Celebrity Apprentice AND THEN working out.

People who exercise in the morning are more successful at making it a habit, according to ACE Fitness. There you have it.

Another reason to work out early: The world’s pace moves faster during the earlier part of the day, and you can ride the energy wave. I’m recalling my evening workouts in college, cruising on the elliptical in an empty gym and gazing out the window at the dark sky, and I’m shaking my head. Nothing ever happened.

Also, masses of people exercise in my neighborhood in the morning, and they look happy.

If you’re like me and the concept of getting up early for pleasure is alien, I urge you to try it this weekend, just once. Forget about all the excuses not to exercise in the morning.

Pack your jersey pockets with water and power bars and let your eyeballs soak in some sun. You’ll be cruising in no time.


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Chelsea Bush

About Chelsea Bush

Chelsea Bush is a writer on the Ask Fitness Coach team and has covered fitness, health and wellness topics for several magazines. Her favorite ways to get fit: cycling, resistance training and keeping up with her boxer, Greta. Follow her fitness tweets at