What's the Best Time of Day to Exercise?
Morning is definitely best. No, wait, later in the day will help you burn more calories and sleep better. Confused yet?
The debate never ends.
Should you work out first thing in the morning?
Or last thing in the evening?
Get it done in the morning, some say. That way, you’ll have lots of energy for the rest of the day, and have no excuse to play hooky.
No, get it done later in the day, others say. You might not be a morning person, or you might have more energy as the day gets going.
There’s no debate over the value of exercise, though. With menopause and midlife comes extra pounds. It’s a combination of many things: Our metabolism slows, our lifestyle might become more sedentary, the ratio of body fat to muscle changes (and muscle burns more calories than fat).
But more than just about pounds gained (I’m not a fan of that, either), it’s about general health. (That, I’m a fan of.)
Exercise has so many benefits:
Reduces your risk of many cancers
Keeps your joints lubricated (yes, you should move if you have arthritis, even though you might feel too stiff to do so)
Helps keep blood pressure and sugar levels under control
Benefits brain health
I’ve always been someone who needs to move to feel settled. Sounds a bit counter-intuitive, I know. But sedentary life doesn’t sit right for me. My body feels better when it’s doing something, whether that’s stretching, walking, riding, or lifting.
When I had breast cancer many years ago and was told not to exercise (yes, that was the credo back then), I didn’t - couldn’t - listen. I argued with my doctors and even became certified as a fitness instructor so I could train other women (but alas, no one was ready to break the rules.)
Now, the advice is to be as active as possible, and research bears out that women who exercise enjoy a better quality of life along with fewer side effects during and after treatment.
Sorry, I digress, which is easy to do when I feel so passionate about a subject.
Let’s get back to the question:
Morning? Afternoon? Evening?
Do whatever works for you.
Just exercise whenever you can!
Personally, it’s very difficult to read so much varied advice. Science has a way of contradicting the past. One study touts morning exercise, while another advocates a late afternoon workout. And then there are hundreds of other tidbits in between.
Of course, each has its distinct and personal advantages and disadvantages; the most obvious being that if you work out in the morning, you’re less likely to get distracted/busy/lazy and skip your well-intentioned afternoon or evening session.
But if you’re not a morning person (guilty), that could be tough. Just make a promise with yourself that you will not skip it later in the day. I know, I know…easier said than done.
Like everything else in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
Exercise takes commitment and consistency. And once you decide on those, the whenever(s) and wherever(s) will fall into place.
For a Pause…
If you choose to work out at home, you can do it easily using your own body weight. I love all the choices - 53! Surely you can find a few to like, as well.
Here’s a very helpful and well-thought-out article about morning vs. evening exercise.
The Mayo Clinic has some things to say about menopause weight gain. Blame hormones, sure, but it’s more complicated than just that.
An exercise mat like this one is so nice to have on hand. I even brought mine on a recent road trip and used it in my hotel room. Stretching after long car rides is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
One More Thing:
When I was a kid, I loved gym class, especially what we did to get going. Push ups, squat thrusts (now called “burpees), and more, along with the song Chicken Fat. Do you remember?
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