Finding the best way to fit exercise into your routine


Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

You've heard about the benefits of regular exercise. But the challenge comes in trying to make exercise part of your normal routine.

The time of day you exercise can affect the success of your workout. There is no single "best" time to exercise. Depending on your goals -- such as losing weight or getting in shape to compete -- these factors can help you plan your schedule:

*Medical concerns. If you have health problems, consult your doctor about an exercise progarm. For example, if you have coronary artery disease, some data suggest you may be at risk for heart attack or rhytmn disorders if you exercise vigorously in the early morning.

*Effects on metabolism. Extended, vigorous eexercise raises your metabolic rate (the process of burning calories for energy). The rate remains accelerated for a brief time, even after you stop exercising. Such an "afterburn" or "thermic effect" can help you burn more calories. You may get the most benefit in the evening, when your metabolic rate naturally slows.

Also, for unknown reasons, thinner people are more likelly to accelerate their metabolism than individuals who are overwight.

*Impact on appetite. After a sustained, strenuous workout, you may not feel like eating.

Most people consume the majority of calories after 4 p.m., so exercise before the evening meal may help decrease caloric intake when it would be highest. But don't use exercise to skip or delay meals, or you could develop a greater-than-normal appetitie and be tempted to overeat.

*Diversion of digestion. There is noevidence that exercising right after a meal can eliminate the calories you just ate.

In fact, "eat and run" is bad advice. Vigorous exercise soom after a meal inhibits the the movement of food through your intestines and decreases the secretion of enzymes that help with digestion. Potential result: cramps and indigestion.

But this doesn's mean you shoould nap after a big meal. Wait about an hour after you eat and then do some moderately paced exercise, such as walking.

*Body clock: Work out at the time of day when you're most energeic, whether you're a"morning person" or a"night owl." You're apt to do better at exercise, and enjoy it modre.

*Training techniques: If you're training for a specific event, spend several weeks training at the time of day the event occur. This will help approximate the conditions in which you'll compete.

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