Our bodies are designed to move – to stretch, challenge our muscles and get our blood pumping. Exercise nourishes us, giving us vital energy for each day. And it helps keep our body’s many patterns and processes humming along as they should.
“Exercise helps your body do what it does naturally,” says Accredited Exercise Physiologist Carly Ryan, a spokesperson for Exercise and Sports Science Australia. “For example, it can help improve sleep, boost energy levels and help mood and mental health.”
Our circadian rhythms, or biological clock, influence so much of what happens in our body. Our sleep and wake cycles, blood pressure, body temperature, hormones, hunger, digestion and other bodily functions all move to a daily beat. Getting our heart racing and breaking a sweat regularly plays a role in keeping these cycles flowing smoothly.
So what’s the best time of day to exercise? It’s one of the most common fitness questions, and gym junkies obsessed with ‘hacks’ and ‘maximising’ workouts can debate it endlessly.
But the answer is brilliant news – essentially, it’s whatever feels best for you. There may be some differences in how the body performs and responds at different times of day, but in the end, the optimum time for you will be a more individual decision.
“The best time of the day to exercise is easy – the time you’ll actually do it,” Carly says. “Think about what’s going to be the best time that suits your life and what’s going on that day, and plan around that.
“There is some research that has suggested exercising first thing in the morning is the most optimal time of the day for exercise in terms of things like boosting metabolism. However, realistically the jury is still out on whether this is significantly better than any other time of the day.”