Doing a few pushups or sweating to a dance aerobics DVD a couple of hours before bedtime might help boost your metabolism to help you burn fat even after you go to sleep. According to the American Council on Exercise, you perform better and more powerfully when you exercise in the late afternoon because your body temperature is higher and your muscles are at their peak. Your muscles gradually warm up throughout the day. If you prefer to work out in the evening, try to get it in at least two to three hours before bedtime to avoid problems going to sleep.
Dangers of Body Fat
Body fat, especially fat around your belly, can be dangerous to your health. Whether you decide to exercise morning, afternoon or evening, it's important that you do get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excess fat can contribute to numerous health problems, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. According to the Harvard Health Publications, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days can help boost your metabolism to burn fat, especially the dangerous visceral fat around the belly area. Combine your exercise routine with a low-fat, nutritious diet to lose belly fat and reduce your risk of chronic disease associated with belly fat.
Cardio at Night
Cardio can jump-start your metabolism no matter what time of the day you exercise. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, your body functions optimally between the hours of 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. -- early afternoon to early evening -- because your muscles and lungs are more warmed up, stronger and more flexible. Try jumping rope, jogging on a treadmill or running around your block for at least 20 minutes or longer, until you work up a good sweat. Step aerobics will give your leg muscles an intense workout while you boost your metabolism for increased fat-blasting calorie burning.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you can get more benefit from strength-training exercises later in the day than in the morning. Your body temperature is lowest in the morning, but gradually increases throughout the day. By late afternoon, your muscles are ready to go. Do some body-weight exercises, such as pushups, crunches, planks and lunges, or try some dumbbell curls or include resistance band exercises. The most important factor for burning fat and losing weight is burning off more calories than you consume. So, no matter what time of day you strength train, your body will use energy (calories) to repair your muscles after a workout, thus allowing you to burn fat and drop unwanted pounds.
Sleep After Exercise
Exercising a few hours before bedtime shouldn't keep you up at night. In fact, exercise in the early evening might help you sleep better. A study published in the "Journal of Biological Rhythms" in 2007 found that exercise day or night had no negative effects on a person's biological clock, or pattern of sleep and waking. Exercise several hours before bedtime may help you relax for a better night's sleep. When you exercise, your brain releases hormones, including endorphins, that help you relax and improve your mood.
- American Council on Exercise: Best Time to Exercise
- Harvard Health Publications: Taking Aim at Belly Fat
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Set Your Clock to Workout Time
- American College of Sports Medicine: Chronobiological Effects on Exercise
- Journal of Biological Rhythms: Exercise Distributed Across Day and Night Does Not Alter Circadian Period in Humans
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?
- IDEA: Burning Fat: Myths and Facts
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Prime Times to Exercise
Robin Reichert is a certified nutrition consultant, certified personal trainer and professional writer. She has been studying health and fitness issues for more than 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health from Clayton College.