Sunday, February 22, 2009

When Is The Best Time For Me to Run?

Since I started running almost a year ago, I have tried morning, afternoon and evening runs. And, regardless of when I run there always seems to be reasons why I should have run at a different time. Several of my Twitter-mates recently discussed the times they prefer to run and their responses varied across the board.

With no definitive reason to run at a specific time of day, I searched the internet to answer the question, "When is the best time for me to run?" I guess I should not have been surprised to learn that science does not have an answer to this question. The best time to run typically depends on your circadian rhythm: if you are a morning person you probably prefer morning runs; if you are a night owl you may prefer afternoon or evening runs.

In the article When is the Best Time to Exercise?, Elizabeth Quinn says you should be aware of the following research:
  1. Late afternoon is best for exercise because our body temperature is highest.
  2. Strength is greater (by about 5%) in the afternoon.
  3. Endurance is greater (by about 4%) in the afternoon.
  4. Injuries are less likely in the afternoon because we tend to be more alert, our body temperature is higher, and we muscles tend to be more flexible.
  5. Morning exercisers are more consistent, i.e., morning exercisers are less likely to find something else to do other than exercise.
  6. There's no clear evidence that shows evening exercise adversely affects sleep.
In summary you should choose an exercise time that is convenient for your schedule. In the article, What's the Best Time to Exercise?, Steven Aldana, PhD says, "Most of all, find a time that helps you make your exercise a regular, consistent part of your life."

I tend to be a person who exercises consistently when I run in the morning. However, my work schedule sometimes dictates that I run in the evening which feels better but is more difficult to do routinely. The bottom line is, what's important is that you DO run; and not when you run.


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