#WinbyLosing: What is the best time of day for cardio?

The Win by Losing competition continues on and with that, your questions about health and fitness continue to come in.  While we cannot answer your personal health questions in a blog post, we do get questions we know resonate with many of the contest participants and will use those as ideas for future posts as space allows.  If you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan subscriber, be sure to take advantage of our Health Coach Hotline for help with specific questions about your weight loss.

Question: What is the best time of day for me to do my cardio workout?  And should I be doing my cardio on an empty stomach? 

One day this summer, I was talking with our intern Jason Weslosky about some of the exercise related questions we were receiving on our A Healthier Michigan Facebook page.  I picked him for the conversation because he just graduated from University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology, so I figured he would know a few things about exercise.

I started the conversation by saying, “I know I should be answering this person’s question by saying they should do the type of exercise they are willing to stick to, but that seems pretty simplistic.”  He replied, “But that is the right answer.”

The same can be said for what time you should be doing any cardio workout, pick a time you will stick with for the long-haul.  There is some science that suggests a late afternoon workout because it is in line with our circadian rhythms, so your body is more pliable and less likely to be injured.

Other studies suggest the body burns more calories in the morning because that early morning workout kick starts your metabolism. There is also the argument that people are more likely to stick to their morning workout routines because the unexpected events of the day will not interrupt your workout schedule.

The bottom line, the best time of day is still the time of day that works best for you.  And since everyone’s body is different, take the time to rotate your workout times until you find the time that works best for you.

Regardless of your ideal workout time, the science on when to eat is a little more clear.  Eating a small meal before a workout can actually help you burn more calories.  Try eating a small, complex carbohydrate heavy meal one hour before you workout to see the results for yourself.

When do you fit in your cardio workouts?

Photo credit: Raghu Jana

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