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Morning or evening? When’s the best time to exercise?

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I get asked this question a lot: “What time of day is the best time to exercise? Morning or afternoon?”

My answer is always the same. “It is best to exercise when you will do it.” Plain and simple. What works for you is what you should do.

Not everyone is a morning person and can feel motivated to exercise in the a.m. Although in my experience, most people find an excuse not to exercise if they wait until the afternoon.

My personal opinion is that getting in exercise as your day begins makes you more successful at making and keeping exercise as a habit. You will be more likely to stick to it.

There are fewer distractions in the morning; the day is beginning, so there are fewer of the obstacles that seem to come with daily work and life.

Most people who have a normal sleep pattern will wake up rested and raring to go. More energy can make your body work out more efficiently.

Exercise can definitely give you a boost to face the day. Just remember you may need a little more warm up time to get going if you choose morning as your time.

If you are a home exerciser, depending on the workout you choose, you can worry less about packing clothes and other gear and just pop in a DVD or download an app that gets you started on your goals.

A great advantage to this is no drive time to go work out. The same goes if you just lace up and head out the door to run or walk. You start your day saving time! This may play into your decision if time is tight.

On the flip side, some research says we can exercise at higher intensity in the afternoon. By then your body is warmed up. You may also have bottled up some stress at work that needs to be released.

If you are a group exercise lover (me, me, me), the good news is that most fitness facilities book more classes in the evening as opposed to the morning.

The main thing is that some people just aren’t morning people. I know this because I used to despise mornings. Now I love them. I think that comes with age and having kids. It’s not like kids give you a choice to sleep in!

Over time, I have become that person who likes to exercise in the a.m. because I know I will make an excuse to forego it if I wait until afternoon. (Sometimes that excuse is as simple as a cold beer!)

You have to find what works for you and your busy schedule. Go when you feel like you will have the best chance to succeed. Invest in yourself so you can lead your best life.

My advice to someone who says they are not a morning person is to try it for two weeks. If you normally get up at 6:30 a.m. to get to work, get up at 5:45 a.m. and try working out with an exercise DVD, or go for a walk or a run.

I think your chances at success will increase a lot. The day holds too many unforeseen things that can become excuses.

What time of day will you be able to make this a habit? Your body craves movement. So get out and get the wonderful satisfaction that a challenging workout can give you.

In turn, you are doing something great for your body, which in turn is doing something great for your family.

Ann Angell is a certified instructor and personal trainer and  manager of the Oxford YMCA. Her fitness column appears the third Sunday of each month.