Healthy Living

What is the best time of day to work out?

Are you an early bird or night owl when it comes to exercise?

Written by Medibank
Portrait of a smiling young Middle-Eastern ethnicity athlete

Between work, family commitments, and having a social life, sometimes it’s hard to make time for exercise. For many of us it’s usually a case of squeezing it in whenever we can, which makes it hard to stay in shape and build up endurance. It’s important to prioritise your health and wellbeing, and exercising regularly is a big part of that. Even going for a 20 minute walk a few times a week is better than no movement. So when is the ideal time of day to get the most out of your workout?

Your body clock

Also known as circadian rhythm, your body clock determines how you feel at different times of the day. Everybody’s circadian rhythm is different, which is why you might prefer hitting the gym at night, while your partner might find morning exercise more appealing.

Our busy lives make it hard to listen to our body clocks all the time. Let your circadian rhythm guide you as much as possible, but don’t worry if you have to go against it to fit some movement into your busy day.

Early birds vs. night owls

They say the early bird catches the worm, but only if that bird can drag itself out of bed! Here are some pros and cons about training when the sun rises, versus when it sets.

Morning workouts:

PROS:

  • Gets it out of the way early so you can relax in the evening with a good book or your favourite show.
  • Sets you up for the day with a boost of endorphins (natural mood lifters!).
  • Is easier to stick to because you don’t have to be anywhere else at 6am.

CONS:

  • You have to wake up early, which can be near impossible for night owls.
  • You need to spend more time warming up because your muscles and joints have stiffened during sleep. Failing to warm up properly could result in injury, and nobody wants that!

Evening workouts:

For those who like the nightlife, or find it hard to get out of bed before 8am, evening exercise is the better option.

PROS:

  • Allows you to sleep longer, or at least later.
  • It’s a great way to blow off steam from the day, and reset your mood and mind.
  • Your muscles and joints have loosened from use throughout the day.
  • You don’t have to rush to make it to work after your workout.

CONS:

  • There are more distractions and temptations to lead you astray at the end of the day.
  • Darkness can limit your options, especially if you’re a walker, runner or road cyclist.
  • Gyms are much more crowded in the evenings, which can prolong or disrupt your workout.
  • Your metabolism and sleep will be affected if you workout, and therefore eat dinner, too late.

So what’s the answer?

Many studies have been conducted to determine the time sweet spot for better fitness results, but all have been inconclusive. There remains no hard evidence that working out at a particular time of day can burn calories more efficiently, or build muscles stronger, or provide any other major health benefits.

The truth is, there is no perfect time to exercise. But there might be a perfect time for you. Working out is a very personal thing, and only you know what works for you. Experts say the most important thing is to choose a time of day you can stick with, so that exercise becomes a habit.

Whether you choose morning, evening, or even lunchtime, to exercise, make sure it becomes part of your routine. Check out our Live Better at Home program for a range of workouts that you can do at any time of the day or night!

Live Better at Home

At Medibank, we know that caring for yourself helps you to care for those around you. That’s why we’ve created Live Better at Home.

We're encouraging all Australians to join our daily Eat, Move and Feel activities that will help us all stay active, stay healthy and Live Better at Home.

Written by Medibank

Previous article

What’s in your lunch box?

Related articles

Subscribe to receive the best from Live Better every week. Healthy recipes, exercise tips and activities, offers and promotions – everything to help you eat, move and feel better.

By clicking sign up I understand and agree to Medibank's privacy policy

Thanks for subscribing. You’re on the road to a better, healthier version of you!