Is it Better to Work Out in the Morning or Evening?

Which Workout time is best, Morning or Evening?

One of the longest debates in our country continues to linger on: when is the best time to work out? If you are Dwayne Johnson, you stand firmly with the morning crowd hitting the gym at 4:30 a.m. And who is going to argue with The Rock? But squeezing in an exercise time early in the morning doesn’t work for everybody. Some people prefer to get in a good walk during their lunch break while others like to hit the gym at night when it’s empty. But what time is the best time to work out?

Morning People vs. Evening People

It’s no wonder that “morning people” prefer to exercise in the morning. They pretty much like to do everything in the morning. Blame it on their circadian rhythm. According to WebMD, circadian rhythm is led by the earth’s rotation. Each 24-hour rotation has a say in how our body functions. It can influence blood pressure, body temperature, hormone levels and heart rate.

But not everyone operates with the same circadian rhythm. Despite their good intentions, some people will always struggle to wake up early and are more inclined to visit the weight room after dinner. This isn’t a bad thing since there really isn’t any credible evidence proving that calories will burn off quicker in the morning rather than at night. However, your body will react differently when you work out.

Good Morning Sunshine

For many wanting to establish a daily routine of exercise, lacing up your running shoes in the morning is the best choice says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego.

“The thinking is that they get their exercise in before other time pressures interfere,” Bryant says. “I usually exercise at 6 a.m., because no matter how well-intentioned I am, if I don’t exercise in the morning, other things will squeeze it out.”

But consistency isn’t the only benefit of working out in the morning. Most doctors agree that early risers benefit from extra energy, increased metabolism, and they sleep better. For men, testosterone levels are about a third higher in the morning. This is important because the hormone helps to fuel energy which can lead to better muscle mass. Men’s Health also recently cited a report from a British Journal of Nutrition Study that suggested that morning exercisers can burn 20% more fat (

Night Owls Unite

The biggest reason many people don’t work out at night is because they have been told that it will interrupt their sleep. And that is true, to a point.

“You want your heart rate and body temperature in a rest zone. It starts the body getting into a habit of sleep,” says Sally A. White, PhD, dean and professor in the College of Education at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. “Both exercise and eating raise your heart rate and temperature,” White tells WebMD. “That’s not conducive to sleeping.”

However, that same Men’s Health article mentioned above also cites an Appalachian State University study that says just the opposite. According to the study, people who lifting weights at 7 a.m. were able to fall asleep faster than those who didn’t. However, it also showed that while evening gym time did raise body heat, it was similar to sitting in a warm bath and therefore actually promotes good sleep. Hormones are on your side as well. Cortisol levels can climb up to 75% in the morning hours but level off at nighttime.

For people like Charlotte Andersen, a writer for, working out any time other than the evening is a deal breaker (

“I adopted this routine because it was simply the only time that exercise fit into my schedule,” says Andersen. “But once I realized all the amazing perks of nighttime workouts (including the crazy group of night owls that became my close friends), I was hooked.”

For her, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. She liked going to the gym and not having to fight the crowds. She also liked the fact that because they were fewer people around, she could spend more time on the machines that she preferred without feeling pressure to leave. Charlotte also found that other evening members at her gym were more sociable and more fun to hang out with. It became a place where she had the energy to let go of her frustrations and work out longer than if she had been there earlier in the day.

The Bottom Line

All doctors agree on one thing — any type of workout, regardless of what time of day, is better than no workout at all. And the best type of workout is one that you will actually do on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t mix things up now and then. Variety is the spice of life after all.


Image Credits:

Man Lifting Dumbbells [ID 54755904 © Oleksandr Khmelevskyi |]
Woman Doing a Workout [ID 61502526 © Mykola Lukash |]
Old School Workout [ID 59791921 © Everett Collection Inc. |]