What’s the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

Are you making a major mistake stepping out post-work for that 8 p.m. run?

November 18, 2015
woman out for a morning run
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Morning. Also midmorning and noon. Two p.m. is fine, and 5 p.m. is really good. 

Seriously, any exercise at any time is better than none. And according to research on mice from the University of California, Los Angeles’s Brain Research Institute, exercising anytime during the daylight hours can improve your sleep and reduce your risk for health problems associated with a disrupted internal clock, such as weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and immune system dysfunction. 

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More: 9 Morning Exercises to Start the Day Stress-Free

One thing to consider: Your core temperature is lower in the morning, so if you work out at that time, make sure you warm up properly before jumping into rigorous exercise. Your body tends to be warmer in the late afternoon and evening, which corresponds with greater performance, researchers say. What about exercising at night? It really depends how late you’re planning. A recent study by the National Sleep Foundation found that, compared to non-exercisers, people who work out are more likely to say they sleep well no matter when they broke a sweat. But remember that your internal body temperature cools at the end of the day to make you sleepy. A big sweat session at 10:00 or 11:00 will likely affect your sleep and throw off your body clock.

Adapted from the Women's Health Body Clock Diet