The Time of Day That You Work Out Matters, but Not for the Reason You Think

Photo: Getty Images/ Colin Anderson Productions pty ltd
Every morning when my alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m., I curse out loud. All I want to do is stay snuggled up in a cozy little cocoon, and the last thing I can fathom is walking the three blocks to 305 Fitness and spending an hour twerking to Lizzo (though I do love you, Lizzo). But after a few minutes of mental prep, I crawl out of bed, pour myself a jug of coffee, and—reluctantly—do just that.

I've been subscribing to this exact morning routine for the past year, and as much as it absolutely sucks (seeing the world before 6 a.m., especially in the winter, is freaking dark, you guys), I've never felt stronger or more committed to an exercise regimen. According to new research, there's a scientific reason as to why.

Researchers from The Miriam Hospital at the Brown Alpert Medical School, found that consistency in workout timing is the key to weight management and staying fit. In other words, you're more likely to be successful if you're working out at the same time every day instead of mixing things up.

According to the International Business Times, the study asked 375 people to fill out a questionnaire about their exercise habits. They found that 68 percent of participants worked out at the same time, and about half of them preferred to do so in the early morning (to me, morning workouts help with consistency because they happen before the day gets busy and reasons not to sweat roll in). It's also worth noting that those who kept their timing consistent clocked 350 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity during the week, while the ones who didn't only got in 285 minutes of movement.

"All of these individuals tend to have very high physical activity levels, and what we found for them is that the time of day doesn't really matter—it's just whether or not they consistently do it at the same time," says Bond. "What we speculate is that it's related to forming a habit—that individuals might not even have to think about it."

When it becomes a habit, then it becomes second-nature for someone to do it. "I use the example of brushing your teeth," he says. "You just get up and you do that, or you do it after a meal, and you don't really think about it. And so these individuals, if they exercise at the same time, it becomes a cue to just do it."

Welp. Looks like my 5:45 a.m. wakeup call isn't going anywhere, I guess.

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