The Best Time to Exercise on a Treadmill
By Simon Gould
The good thing about a treadmill is that you can exercise at any time. If you have one at home then a 5 am run can be done. If you’re a member of one of these 24 hour gyms then a midnight run is yours for the choosing. You couldn’t run outside at those times. Maybe you don’t like running in the dark or you don’t feel safe.
There’s something about having a run before you go to work. You feel fully energized and alive as you step into the office. Everyone else is half asleep but you’ve done 3 miles on a treadmill and feel fantastic. It means getting up early and possibly before anyone else is, but as long as you get enough sleep it’s easily done.
If you exercise at 7 am then the science agrees that it’s a good thing. The research by a State University says that early runs reduce blood pressure and improve sleep. It did this more than those who exercised at other times of the day. This is for people who exercised 3 times per week. I’ve seen other studies that disagree.
With a morning run you’re not going to eat before you run and that’s fine. Your body will have enough energy from the previous night’s meal. If you’re doing a long run then an energy gel might help for the carbs. However we recommend that you thoroughly hydrate yourself before and during your run as we often wake up slightly dehydrated in the mornings.
Exercising in the afternoon would mean exercising after lunch. It’s best not to exercise too soon after eating to avoid nausea as the blood in your body works at digesting your food instead of taking oxygen to your muscles. So an afternoon exercise would be done at around 3 pm. Most people who work wouldn’t be able to fit this in with their working day.
However if you’re available at 3 pm and you choose to exercise then the gym is not usually busy at this time. They’ll be no queuing or time limits for the treadmills. It gives a nice split in the day and you can carry on working after your exercise. You’re fully awake at this time and your evening meal will be able to fill the hole that the exercise gives unless you take on some protein.
This is when most people exercise. When you finish work you get on the treadmill and do your evening workout. You won’t have eaten for a while, you will just have an evening meal after your workout in the evening to replenish your energy stores. It’s the most convenient time of day and gives you the remaining part of the evening free to spend with the family
The problem is that after a day’s work sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is going for a run on a treadmill. A body that’s already tired may not get the best of exercising. However they very fact that you may feel sluggish means that exercise will wake you up again and give you energy and an increase of happy hormones for the rest of the day.
Another study indicates afternoon and evening are best for performance
The National Library of Medicine says our body temperature peaks at these times. Our strength and endurance are best between 2 pm and 6 pm. They also found your reactions are better and your heart rate slower. This all makes later day workouts seem the most sensible. But for a lot of us it’s just not a sensible time of day to do it. A lot of us are working and may not be able to find the time.
I’ve changed th time I exercise on my treadmill over the years. Right now I do it at 12 noon before lunch, this is the most convenient time. I notice no measurable decrease in performance. The study doesn’t say how much your performance is affected by working out at a sub optimal time, but I would guess it’s a tiny fraction. I exercise for health benefits, not to win races.
When conditions warrant it
Whether you decide to get on your treadmill at any time of day. Sometimes it’s the conditions outside which make the decision for you. This is what is so convenient about a treadmill. You exercise on it inside. So the light or bad weather don’t affect your ability to exercise. Many sports people and athletes take advantage of a treadmill for this reason.
You’re able to predict future treadmill workouts by looking at the weather forecast. Maybe it looks bad for one day and you can schedule a treadmill run instead of outside. Many training routines like speed work can take advantage of a treadmill’s abilities. When conditions dictate an alternative exercise routine, one can be had which are favorable on a given time.
Any exercise is better than none
You can have research that proves the morning or evening is best for exercising when it comes to the human cycle. However, all the research points to the fact that whenever you do the exercise, the fact that you are exercising at all is the best thing for you. If you work during the day, then we’re not finely tuned athletes, so as long as we get the exercise in there, then there is a lot of benefit for us.
The CDC says you don’t have to do your exercise all in one go. You can do it in 10 minutes chunks and still get the benefit. Now most of us will exercise longer than 10 minutes at a time but it still shows the nature of exercise and it’s benefits. So pick a time that’s most convenient for your life right now.
Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.