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The Best Time of Day to Walk and Exercise

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Updated September 14, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Morning Walking

Morning walking

Wendy Bumgardner ©
Is there a best time of day to walk?

Research on lung function, body rhythms, temperature, and hormone levels says one thing -- to exercise around 6 p.m.

Surveys on exercise habits say another -- to exercise in the morning before other commitments distract you, or during the day when you have a free period of time. Let's explore the pros and cons of when to exercise.

Mornings

Pros:
• The majority of people who exercise consistently do so early in the day. It is easier to form the exercise habit through morning exercise.
• A study found reduced attraction to photos of food after a 45-minute brisk morning walk, and more activity throughout the rest of the day.
• Fewer distractions and schedule interruptions.
• Can make time for exercise by getting up a bit earlier.
• Raises your heart rate and metabolism to burn more calories earlier in the day.
• Gives a feeling of physical energy for hours.
• Improves your mental acuity for hours.
• Cooler temperatures in summer.
• Lowest air pollution levels in the morning.
• Body adjusts to your exercise time, so if you are training for a morning walking event, train in the morning.

Cons:
• Body temperature is at its lowest 1 to 3 hours before awakening, making morning a time of naturally lower energy and blood flow.
• Cold, stiff muscles may be more prone to injury. Be sure to warm up well before doing a higher speed workout, and do gentle stretching.
• If you do not enjoy morning exercise, you won't easily form a walking habit by choosing a morning workout time.
• Because body temperature and hormones are higher in late afternoon, you probably get the same or better calorie-burning effects later in the day.

Next page> Noon-Time and Break-Time | Afternoon and After-Work | Evening

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