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The Best Time to Exercise


By Chad Tackett

Everyone can agree that exercise is a good way to stay physically fit and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. You'll feel better, have more energy and your whole outlook on life will be one hundred percent brighter than someone who fails to find the time to exercise. In short, exercise is a win-win situation that should be a part of your daily routine.

But when exactly is the best time to exercise? Is it first thing in the morning, before you enjoy that first cup of coffee? Or is the best time to exercise right after dinner, so you can work off that extra helping of mashed potatoes that somehow ended up on your plate?

If you are a person who exercises regularly, you may have already found a routine that's just right for you. But on the other hand, if you find your exercise time varies from day to day, and it's wearing you down instead of perking you up, then you need to learn how to listen to your internal clock to determine the best time of the day to schedule your exercise routines.

For example, you might be a person who wakes up very early everyday, and you are perfectly comfortable with beginning your exercise routine that time of the day. If it works for you, and you feel you are getting the most benefits from exercising at that hour, then keep at it. If it's not broke, don't fix it by adding stress.

But say you have to force yourself to get up early to fit in a half hour of jogging or other type of exercise, just because of your work schedule. Maybe you're not having fun with the program you are on, and it's making you miserable. That is something that is broken, and you need to learn how to fix it.

The best time of the day to exercise lies in your circadian rhythms, the daily cycles that our bodies follow. These rhythms regulate everything from body temperature and metabolism to blood pressure. Scientists and physicians have been studying body rhythms to help people determine the best time of the day they are the most productive, the most creative, and will reap the benefits of exercise.

Our bodies have conformed to a twenty-four hour light-to-dark cycle and each of us can determine when we are able to work at a particular task at peak performance. Ever hear someone say "I'm just not a morning person?" That person should not try and squeeze in an exercise program early in the morning.

Scientists have determined that it is the influence of circadian rhythms on body temperature that seems to yield the most control over the quality of a workout. When your body temperature is at it's highest, your workouts will probably be more productive. When your body temperature is lower, chances are your exercise session will be less than ideal. Your body temperature is usually at its lowest point anywhere between one to three hours before you wake up in the morning.

However, by late in the afternoon your body temperature reaches its peak. Medical studies have shown that people who exercise during the time of the day when their body temperature is at its highest produce better performance and more power. Muscles are warm and more flexible, your reaction time is quicker, and you are at your peak strength and less prone to injury.

Try this little experiment to determine your own circadian peak in body temperature. Record your temperature every few hours for 5 consecutive days. You will discover that your body temperature usually fluctuates anywhere up and down 1.5 degrees. You should try to exercise anytime during the period three hours before and after your highest temperature.

Your schedule may not allow you to always exercise at the most optimum time of the day, but remember, a healthy exercise program is a sure way to a happier and healthier lifestyle.





last update: February 2009



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