Monday, 11 February 2013

Ideal time to exercise: The Reality

I get this question often; "What is the ideal time to exercise?" We can read research papers, and articles as much as we want, but like with most things, we'll find conflicting information.  There's positives and negatives to working out in the morning, or later in the day.  So what do I tell my clients?  Let's look at REALITY shall we?

Most of my life, I worked out later in the day.  An afternoon or evening workout always was my favorite time.  Why? Because my body was used to it. I've played sports my whole life.  So we would practice or play games in the afternoon or evenings when I was young.  It was natural for me to be mentally and physically ready to go at that time of day.

But, once college started, reality set in.  School work, job, girlfriend, family life, sports.... There was plenty of things that could impact whether or not I was able to get my workouts in.  Of course, as the years have passed, I now have 2 kids, more responsibility etc.  Lots of opportunities for workouts to be skipped over.  So what did I do?  I readjusted and realized that the best time of day to get my workouts in, uninterrupted, was early in the morning.

Sure for a few weeks it was a bit tough to get used to. Again, for 25 years at that time, I was used to working out later in the day.  But after 8 years of early morning workouts, I now get frustrated and bummed out if I have to do my workout later in the day.

I'm sure you're reading this saying; "ok, so the morning is the best time to workout?". Well, not necessarily.  It's different for everyone.  Here's a simple way to figure out what's best for you:

Steps to understand my ideal workout time

  1. When do I feel the most energy? Early morning, mid-day, evening...?
  2. During this "high energy time" are there things that could interfere with a regular workout/activity routine? 
  3. If no - there's your ideal workout time.  If yes, continue to step 4.  
  4. What time of day holds the least chance of distractions/interruptions that would prevent me from doing my workout/activity?
  5. Once established, that is YOUR, individual ideal time for activity.  

This could be a time of day that will take some adjusting to; energy wise, nutrition wise etc.  But our reality in this day and age is that we are SO busy every day, that in order to ensure we can be consistent with our activity, we have to find a time that works.  For some of you, this time of day could match up both with high energy and no distractions.  For others, even if your energy isn't high during this time at first, you'll be surprised how things change when you try it for 3-4 weeks and combine it with healthy eating habits.  And in the end, you'll be feeling great because your workouts will be VERY consistent.