When is the Best Time of Day to Run?
“Is it true that you can get the most out of your runs if you run in the morning? What time of the day is optimal for running?”
This is a long-standing issue among exercise experts and runners. There is a wide range of studies on this matter, and opinions are different.
Although most experts suggest that the best time of day to run is mid- to late-afternoon, running in the morning has a lot of benefits. Morning running may help you stay motivated to run, and that’s why most people prefer running in the morning. It offers a satisfaction to say “hello” to a new day in the open air and get started with physical activity. Further, your body can burn calories more quickly on an empty stomach. Morning activities build mental strength. After all, the tracks and pavements are less crowded in the morning, so you can be alone with your thoughts while running.
Running in the morning also has a few drawbacks. You will lose that hour in bed and have less time to sleep. In the morning, the body temperature is low and the muscles are pretty rigid, so you will have a greater chance of getting injured. During the cold winter days, the pavements could be slippery in the morning. Early morning is the coldest part of the day which is great during the hot summer months, keeping you comfortable and safe with less of a chance of overheating. However, in the winter months, the freezing cold of early morning can be very uncomfortable.
Some studies have shown that morning running and exercises result in better sleep quality. Furthermore, experts say that people who exercise in the early morning are more consistent in terms of their workout regimens in comparison with those who exercise in the evening or afternoon.
Our body is capable of adapting to the particular time of day when we normally train, which also goes in favor of those who love running in the morning. You can do some of your runs before noon and your body will get used to training at that time. It is a good way to wake up early. This way, you will also get used to other morning routines, such as waking up early, eating and drinking early, using the bathroom, and the like. You can always change your running routine if you find that morning running is not suitable for you, or if you have a natural tendency to get more out of your workout in the afternoon or evening.
Afternoon (Mid- to Late Afternoon)
According to many experts, the ideal time of the day to exercise is somewhere between 4 pm and 5 pm, because our body temperature reaches its highest in the late afternoon in most people. The studies have also confirmed that exercisers give their best performance on physical tests, including endurance, strength, aerobic capacity, and reaction time between 4 pm and 7 pm.
There is also a study conducted by Dr. Boris Medarov from Long Island Jewish Medical Center, which found that our lungs work better in the afternoon than at other times of the day. “Exercising or engaging in other physical activities in the late afternoon may help us to achieve optimal performance,” said Dr. Boris.
People who run in the afternoon can get a lot of use out of this activity. As the body temperature is higher in the afternoon, the runners perform better at this time of day. It breaks up the day, so you can think about how to make the rest of your day even better. Also, it is generally warmer in the afternoon; hence, more comfortable to run during the cooler months.
Physically, there are no drawbacks when it comes to running in the afternoon, but there are certain mental and social issues. On weekends, afternoon running may conflict with daytime activities. It is also hard to find motivation to run after a busy day at work. During the hot summer days, the air temperature peaks in the afternoon.
If you belong to people who are slow-going in the mornings, with evening running, there is no pressure. Running in the early evening is a great picker-upper for people feeling beat at the end of their workday and need to get rid of life stress. After an evening run, you will feel energized and motivated to do the things you couldn’t finish during the day.
Running in the evening has certain advantages. First of all, this is a great way to relieve stress after a hard day. While you are running, you don’t have time for unhealthy evening activities, such as binge eating and drinking. You are also likely to sleep better after an evening run.
Of course, there are also a few disadvantages. As with afternoon, it is also hard to stay motivated for an evening run, especially after a hard day in the office. It is dark outside, which reduces visibility and may cause depression in some people. Also, it gets cold in the evening.
As you can see, each time of day has negatives and positives. The late afternoon is the time of day when we reach our physical peak, but it is not our mental one. Mentally, we reach the peak shortly after waking. As the day goes on, mental ability gets worse in most people. Many people cannot find the motivation to run in the late afternoon and evening after a long busy day. Besides, if you work normal hours, an afternoon run is probably only possible during weekends. On the other hand, our physical functions are poor in the morning and the muscles are stiff.
What’s the bottom line? No matter when you go for a run during the day, you will still get plenty of benefits. You should coordinate your running schedule with other activities and run when it works best for you, because some running is always better than no running.