The best time to workout is the time at which you will actually get it done. Exercising in the morning has its advantages. You can get up and go before the activities of your day have a chance to interfere with your plans. If it works for you, roll out of bed and start exercising, but take certain precautions to maximize your workout's benefits.
Your body temperature is lower in the morning, especially upon waking, so you may need a longer warm-up before hitting the higher intensity portion of your routine. The sooner you start your workout upon waking, the more gentle and longer in duration this warm-up should be, notes Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. You can actually perform stretches by reaching your arms overhead and bending side-to-side before you step out of bed to start the process.
Starting a workout improperly fueled and hydrated can set you up for early fatigue. If you do workout within a few minutes of waking, have a glass of water first. Ideally, you will have a small 150- to 200-calorie snack an hour before you exercise to give you energy, but this isn't absolutely necessary explains Rebecca Scritchfiied, a registered dietitian and ACSM Health Fitness Specialist in a 2012 issue of "U.S. News & World Report." She explains that you could eat a bit extra the night before to give you a boost for your morning routine, especially if you plan on exercising for less than 90 minutes.
Get Enough Sleep
Exercising right when you wake up maximizes your sleep time. The National Sleep Foundation says that most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night for good health, weight management and cognitive performance. If you chip into your sleep to wake up an hour before you workout, you may be undermining the benefits. Not only will you lack in the energy to put forth a good effort, but also you may negatively affect the levels of your hunger hormones and end up eating more during the day so you negate any calories burned. If you can wake up a little later and hit the gym within 20 or 30 minutes of getting out of bed, you'll spend more time getting valuable sleep.
A morning exercise routine may make you more likely to stick to your efforts, Bryant notes. If you do choose to work out within a few moments of waking, avoid explosive exercises that require jumping and quick changes of direction. Save these moves for days that you can hit the gym after a longer wake-up time because your performance capabilities are enhanced when your body temperature is warmer. Your connective tissues and muscles have had a chance to adapt to activity, and you will be less likely to experience injury.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.