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Your Workouts Might Be a Waste If You’re Exercising at the Wrong Time of Day

by Jacqueline Burt on December 13, 2012 at 5:43 PM

gymI don't know about you, but it's not the ticking of my biological clock that haunts my dreams, it's my circadian clock. You know, the body's complex internal timer that somehow controls our entire phyiscal and mental well-being BUT is extremely easy to screw up? By sleeping in or getting up early or staying up late or going to bed early or breathing, it seems?! Well, turns out there's yet another way you're probably maybe messing with your circadian clock. According to a recent study, the best time to exercise is in the afternoon, because early morning and late night workouts set your circadian alarm right off, and that's a bad thing (assuming you don't particularly feel like increasing your risk for "diabetes, obesity, certain types of cancer, memory loss and mood disorders, including depression.")

Granted, this theory is currently based on animal research, but I believe it. Based on my own personal ill-timed exercise experiences.

Truth be told, my current workout schedule has dwindled down to "occasionally o'clock." But I used to be more diligent about finding ways to fit regular exercise into my schedule, and even then, my options were pretty much either a.) early morning before work or b.) evenings after work. Neither one was ideal.

Early morning workouts were great at first: Woo-hoo! I'm all pumped for the day and it's only 8 a.m.! I'm so AWAKE! Except by noon, my body felt like it was 4 p.m. (By 4 p.m., I was sleepwalking.)

Evening workouts were also great at first: Woo-hoo! I got to sleep in an hour later in the morning! Except I was really tired when I got to the gym and really pumped when I left the gym, so I couldn't fall asleep until it was super late.

Whereas afternoon workouts, whenever I've been able to squeeze them in, always make me feel better all-around. The only problem is, how many of us actually have time to exercise smack in the middle of a weekday afternoon? 

When do you workout? What time of day would you exercise if you could?


Image via JBLM MWR/Flickr

Filed Under: exercise, energy & fatigue, sleep


  • Pinkmani


    December 13, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    Well that makes sense... Most kid activities are around that time since it's after school!

  • Venae


    December 13, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Give me a break....I always exercised at 9:00 a.m. (when the classes started) - I did 7 hours a week of classes - yoga, weight training, aerobics, pilates and my "physical well being" was great.  How are you going to work out in the middle of the afternoon?  Sorry, boss, gotta leave for an hour or two, sweat up a storm, shower, put my work clothes back on and go back to work.  STUPID.  Work out whenver you can fit it in - that's better than not at all.

  • Histo...


    December 14, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Vanea... you're a perfect example of what's wrong with people today. OBVIOUSLY working out whenever you can fit it in is better than nothing, that has nothing to do with the article provided. OBVIOUSLY there are going to be people that do not fit into the mold- that is a standard as well. The research only shows what seems to be best for a majority. *sigh*

    People are so quick to dismiss research, call it stupid, or try to defend themselves because they don't want to change or they don't quite fit into the scenario. That's life- it doesn't negate the information provided any. Keep doing what your doing if it works for you- but this might come in handy to others!

  • Pinkmani


    December 14, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Amen, HistoryMama! Everyone is DIFFERENT!

  • the4m...


    December 14, 2012 at 10:16 AM
    I find this t be real silly. I didn't read the study, but from what the OP is writing, it doesn't sound like it says anything about some key components:
    Your standard wakeup time
    Your standard bedtime
    If you exercise more than once a day
    What kind of exercise you're doing *they have a more relaxing yoga, that's perfect for the evening*
    The health level of the person exercising.
    And those are just off the top of my head.

    Seems to be just one more cookie cutter "you're doing it wrong and its going to kill you" studies, that basically means nothing.

  • the4m...


    December 14, 2012 at 10:22 AM
    Okay, I read the article the OP linked, and this is just hokum.
    "We don't know what this means for humans"
    "Exercise could PROBABLY HELP regulate" our bodies natural rythms.
    The healthy mice, it didn't seem to make a difference on, only the mice specifically bred to have wrong rythms were effected, and all it did was help regulate their rythms slightly.
    It did not screw up the healthy mice, to let them exercise whenever they wanted, or durring the specific times mentioned here (morn, noon, night)
    Stop spreading this junk.
  • sukainah


    December 14, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    If I could get into a routine to exercise, it would be first thing in the morning before the kids are up.

  • Madel...


    December 14, 2012 at 2:34 PM


  • MamaB...


    December 14, 2012 at 5:51 PM
    I perfer first thing in the morning
  • elasmimi


    December 15, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    I think any time is better than no exercise at all.

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