Best Times To Exercise

Everyone should exercise if at all possible after checking with their doctor. But when is the best time for a workout?

With daily health news reporting the benefits of regular, safe exercise, most of us know we need to get up and start moving. Walking, jogging, racquetball, tennis, or even basketball with the kids are all great ways to burn calories and pump adrenalin.

But when is the best time to exercise? While it may vary from person to person depending on health conditions and daily schedules, there are some times that seem more conducive than others:

1. Up and at 'em. Some vigorous souls manage to jump up out of bed and start their day with a hearty bout of exercise. Running two miles or walking around the block, they're ready for a shower and work by 7 or 8 a.m. Our biological clocks suggest that early morning is a great time to exercise, since hormone levels peak near daylight and many of us wake up with high energy levels. In addition, if you plan to exercise outdoors, early sunlight provides the safest exposure to UV rays, since later in the day the peak sunlight times between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. can cause sun damage that may lead to melanoma, a deadly skin cancer, along with signs of aging and other detrimental effects.

2. Eat and run. Use your lunch break to get moving. Take a long indoor walk or a more intense outdoor jog. Visit the gym if it's located nearby, or simply stroll around the office with your pedometer counting steps toward your daily goal of 10,000. Not only will your stiff muscles and joints welcome a break from your job, whatever it is, but your exercise routine may cut into your lunch break to leave less time to eat, thus potentially keeping hundreds of calories from entering your body. Have a light yogurt, instant soup, or salad meal instead.

3. The five o'clock shadow. When quitting time comes, change into your workout gear and head out for a refreshing exercise break. Jump on your bike, hit a few balls (tennis or golf) with a buddy, or dive into the pool at the club where you have a membership. Physical activity makes a great change of pace after a long day of sitting or standing on the job or at school.

4. After dinner plans. Don't loll on the sofa after your last meal of the day. Get up and get going for a brisk walk or other activity. Share exercise with a spouse, a friend, or even a son or daughter to make it a special bonding as well as a fitness opportunity. Take turns doing what the other enjoys so long as it involves physical activity that increases your heart rate and perspiration.

5. Do it anytime. No matter what your work schedule may be, or how many days you work each week, or if you don't work at all, any exercise time is good as long as you do it at least 20 minutes, and preferably 30, for three or more times each week. You can work out Monday morning, Tuesday afternoon, and Thursday evening if that fits your schedule best.

Don't forget to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Be consistent and you will be rewarded by positive results in the form of lost pounds, health benefits, and an increased sense of well-being.

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