When daylight saving time ended on Nov. 2, my body was already adjusted to outdoor workouts. Oh, no, I should say it’s actually my mind. Running on the treadmill still doesn’t sound appealing - sometime in my life, surprisingly it did! I seriously started to think about exercising in the morning.
I had some myths about morning workouts from my messy collection of knowledge and some random assumptions. There was a Korean president who made a big deal about jogging in the morning. Some Koreans followed his example until they were discouraged by researchers.
They were told that it’s not healthy to work out in the morning because 1. the foggy air in the morning contains more pollution -it’s a fair argument that Korea is more polluted in general - and 2. our body is not completely ready to exercise.
Rather than dumping the idea to exercise in the morning, I decided to look into the idea more deeply. I’ve found different opinions about morning exercise vs. afternoon exercise.
Things to know about afternoon workouts or evening workouts
1. There is plenty of time to get ready for exercise such as hydrating and eating.
2. The body itself is more ready to exercise. According to some research, the level of ACTH (adrenocortical hormone) and thyroid stimulating hormone increases after 7pm, which results in burning more calories.
3. You don’t really have to worry about ultraviolet rays (UV) or worry less when you work out late afternoon or in the evening.
4. It’s said that human growth hormone (GH) and melatonin is secreted more after evening workouts. GH and melatonin is believed to slow down aging and improve immune system.
5. You can release stress that you get during the day and don’t have to carry it over to your family or friends.
6. Try not to work out too late, though. It’s not recommended working out an hour or a couple of hours earlier of your bed time. Strenuous exercise will raise body temperature and blood flow, which prevents you from having a sound sleep.
Things to know about morning workouts
1. It’s believed that morning exercising is better in regard to losing weight. Pre-requisite of this theory is not to eat before the morning exercise. This way, you can burn fat instead of burning what you eat.
- Basically the level of glycogen, the first source of energy stored in liver and muscles, is lower in the morning, and the body burns an alternative energy source, fat. In the morning, the level of *insulin is lower as well, which helps burning more fat.
- There is an opposing view on this opinion: your body may actually generate energy from muscles rather than fat because the body is basically catabolic state in the morning (normally anabolic state). Exercising in catabolic state can actually decrease metabolism, and end up losing more muscles.
2. Some doctors agree that for those who work out in the morning, their heartbeat is higher all day, which will elevate metabolism throughout the day. Many morning exercisers say that they have more energy and are more alert all day.
This makes a very good sense when we look at the fact that intensive workouts prevent people from having a good night sleep because body muscles are all energized from workout.
3. This is just a general opinion, but it’s said that many people who work out in the morning feel that they use their time more efficiently.
What time is the best time for exercise?
I think the best answer for this question is both morning workouts and evening workouts have their own advantages and the best exercise time depends on each individual. People have a different work schedule, different life style, different body fat and muscle mass. Whatever fits them, it should be the best exercise for them.
There will be some difference between efficiency of calorie-burning between different exercise times, but exercise is exercise. After all, exercising is far better than non-exercising in keeping healthy and losing weight.
As for me, these days when sun goes down so early in the afternoon, I try to do cardio in the morning such as sand dune, trail running or treadmill jogging with TV news on. During work hours, I take 15 to 20 minute break and do some weight at the gym of my office building at least twice per week. Then, two or three times per week, I do stretching and ab workout at home, again watching TV news! =D
It seems it’s a pretty good schedule for me, but I can’t wait till we have more daylight so I can run outdoors in the afternoon or evening. I’m neither a night owl nor a morning person, and I still find it hard to get up at 6:30 and getting ready for workout and the rest of day.
* Insulin is produced to distribute glucose - monosaccharide aka simple sugar or grape sugar, an energy source produced mainly from carbohydrates to . When there is remaining glucose, it’s first stored in the liver as glycogen and then in the body as fat. The higher insulin level is, the more fat it saves in the body.