AM or PM Workouts

man with towel

AM or PM Workouts by Ainsley Laing

Here's a question that I hear from clients in my fitness classes a lot: "Is it better to workout in the morning or evening?" My answer - "It depends".

It depends primarily on your lifestyle....what fits into your schedule easily is going to be something that you can stick with long-term. And since becoming and staying fit is really a lifestyle (after all, you gotta keep doing it!) it's best to make sure the timing works for you.

There is a lot of discussion among fitness enthusiasts about the
physiology behind exercise and the times of day that people work
out. Athletes and serious competitors use timing to structure their workouts and optimize their training. But, for us regular fitness buffs, it's helpful to be aware of this physiology and time of day to help us prevent injury and get the most out of our workouts.

When we sleep, our bodies are at a lower body temperature. First
thing in the morning, our muscles and joints are still cold from sleep and our blood and synovial fluid (joint lubricant) is a bit viscous. You may notice how your feel a bit "stiff" when you first get out of bed. This is why.

Think of your muscles as being like taffy candy. When taffy is cold, it is hard and brittle. When it warms up, it stretches a really long way. Likewise, when your muscles are cold, they will not stretch so easily and are more likely to tear if taxed too heavily.

Think of your joints like the mechanical parts of a car engine. Engines require motor oil to function smoothly. When an engine is cold its motor oil is thicker and gooier than when the engine is warmed up. The parts of the engine run more smoothly when the oil is warm. The same is true with the synovial fluid of your joints. Cold joints move less smoothly because the fluid that lubricates them is thicker.

Now back to the muscles. A muscle's strength depends on not only its ability to contract, but also its ability to extend or stretch. This is referred to as the "tensile strength" of the muscle. A cold muscle has a lowered tensile strength - so it's just not as strong. So, it stands to reason that if you work out first thing in the morning, to prevent muscle injury and wear and tear of your joints, it's good to give yourself a bit longer warm up period than if you work out in the afternoon.

If you have the chance, do your work outs at different times of day and see if you are stronger in the morning or afternoon (most research tells us that people are stronger in the afternoon). Doing this also changes your body's response to your workouts, meaning that the same workout will affect you differently at different times of day.

So, the answer to the question: "Is it best to workout in the morning or evening?"..... "It depends on when you LIKE to workout!"

Copyright 2006 Ainsley Laing, MSc. has 25 years experience in Group Exercise, Nutrition and Personal Training. She is the chief editor of Body for Mind - Wellness Lifestyle for Successful People where you
can download a FREE copy of "Perpetual Wellbeing - 4 Steps to
Ageless Sex Appeal".

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