Exercise like running is a crucial part of our lifestyle if we want to remain healthy and active. If you want to begin running for better health, there are a couple of factors to consider, such as the best time to run!
You’ve heard people swear by morning runs while others say otherwise. Which one would work best for you? Read on as I explain the best time to run and breakdown the pros or cons of running at certain times!
The Best Time to Run: The Afternoon!
I’m sure a lot of you have always claimed morning runs are the best! Well, research shows that late afternoon to early evenings is actually the best time to exercise.
This is because your body temperature is at its highest and the time when you can get better results. For most, body temperatures are at its highest by 4-5 PM, while others extend the time to 7 PM. It’s during these hours that your strength and endurance would peak.
What does this mean? It means exercisers like runners can perform even better, with aerobic capacity and reaction times improving compare to other times. Plus, you are more likely to be alert and focused during the late afternoon, with muscles warmed up from earlier activities. Because you have more fuel and lung capacity in the afternoon, you can run even longer and build your endurance better.
Afternoon runs can build muscles better compared to morning runs, especially when you pair it with resistance training. While testosterone and cortisol levels are higher in the morning, muscle-building effects of testosterone become negated with muscle-wasting effects from cortisol during the earlier times.
With that said, not everyone has the privilege to run between 4-5 PM due to work or other schedule conflicts! It may also be a bit hot during these times, depending on the weather.
How About The Morning?
But wait! That doesn’t mean that running during other hours is a no-no.
When you wake up in the morning, your body temperature is at its lowest. This indicates that morning isn’t the best time to exercise. But it isn’t the absolute worst time as well, especially when you have no other time to do so.
Running in the morning also has its benefits, especially in terms of mental health. It keeps you motivated, with morning exercisers being more consistent with their runs compared to those who work out in the late afternoon to evening. Also, after a good run, you get a confidence boost and happy hormones to get you ready for the day ahead.
It also helps with one’s diet and weight loss goals, since you are less inclined to overindulge in food.
This may be from getting up earlier than usual for your runs, giving you more control compared to evening runs. After all, you may go through some obstacles that hinder you from running later, such as working late, running errands, or feeling demotivated from a bad day. In the morning, your main focus is on the run without the stressors of the day ahead.
Besides this, running in the morning keeps you cool, since this is usually the coolest time of day. This is especially for those who run during warmer months, or if you live in hot climates! It’s the perfect way to begin the day, as there is higher oxygen content in the morning, making it easier to breathe and run.
If your main focus is comfort, then you’ll want to run in the morning rather than mid-afternoon. Take note that you may have to work on your warm-ups and cool-downs longer and a bit more than usual as your muscles and joints might be stiff, tense, and/or inflexible as you wake up!
How About Night?
For those who only have time to run after work, then you can still take advantage of the cooler air. It’s a great way to relax after a stressful day since the body is still in performance mode and warmed up from the work you’ve just done. You won’t need to warm up as intensely compared to mornings, and you can still burn a good amount of fat a night.
With that said, there are some reports of how exercising at night can negatively affect your sleep cycle. This is because your body heats up when exercising, feeling more energized and focused. Instead of feeling winded down, your body will feel more energy and have a difficult time falling asleep!
So, When Is the Best Time to Run For YOU?
With all this in mind, what time should you be running?
Each time has its pros and cons, and there is no best time for EVERYONE. You will need to experiment and see what works best for how your mind and body feel while still following your schedule.
While late afternoon to early evening runs is optimum, you can still enjoy your runs and reap health benefits when doing so in the morning or later evening.
Some people are naturally morning people, with runs helping them get ready for the day. Others will want to run after their lunch break at work to let off some steam. Or, you may like running in the evening after work to destress, especially if you’re unable to wake up earlier for exercise.
Regardless, you still get to burn calories, build some muscle, and take advantage of its excellent health benefits, from cardiovascular health to boosted immune system.
If you want to learn more about running during the morning, afternoon, and evening, this is an informative video to check out:
Wrapping It Up
I hope that this article on the best time to run gave you an idea of when you should start exercising. Experiment with different times and adjust your schedule according to what time you’d like to run based on your comfort and preference!
Do you have any questions or want to share your own experiences on running at certain times? Share it in the comments section below, all your thoughts are much appreciated.