After a summer filled with grilling, eating out with friends and vacation days focused as much on food as on fun, it might be time to take a quick assessment of how your workout routines are holding up. One question you may want to consider in those musings is just when, during the day, you should be exercising. Brian Coleman, M.D., a family medicine physician with OU Health, offers some tips.

“The best answer is when you have time to do it,” he says.  “Sometimes, if you say you’re going to work out in the afternoon or evening after work, things come up and the workout is easier to skip. If you are a morning person, then the best time may be morning.”

Coleman goes on to explain that a person’s peak body temperature is thought to occur between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. 

“Sometimes intense workouts such as heavy lifting or sprinting can best be done in the afternoon,” he says. “For more intense but shorter workouts.”

If your goal is losing fat, Coleman has suggestions. 

“Working out on an empty stomach can help to burn more fat, but it may make the intensity somewhat less,” he says. “Morning workouts have also been shown to increase metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. If you haven’t eaten anything beforehand [for a morning workout] it changes the energy source you’re primarily using.”

On the other hand, afternoon workouts may boost energy and burn more of the ‘easy’ calories that you’ve consumed for the day.

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As for evening workouts, they “don’t necessarily help you sleep better. If you choose to work out at night you will need a little extra time to cool down and settle down before getting good rest,” he says.

The National Institute of Health has some tips on their website at nih.gov for general exercise. One of the things the site stresses: if you are hesitant about your ability to perform a certain exercise, talk to your physician first. The website also breaks exercising down into the following types: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility.

While some people are convinced most types of exercise require gym equipment or special training, the NIH experts offer some refreshing alternatives, such as:

  • Jogging or brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Raking, mowing or other common yard work
  • Dancing
  • Climbing stairs

For seniors, be sure to add that trip to the local grocery store and carrying in your purchases as exercise. Did you shoot some hoops with your children or grandkids? It all counts when we examine our daily activities for healthy movement.

As for timing, Coleman suggests finding the right workout time and plan for you – not your spouse or your best friend.

“Find something that you enjoy so you’ll be consistent,” he stresses. “Many different types of workout regimens exist. Don’t be afraid to try various things and various time slots in the day.”