Circadian Rhythms and Exercise: Your Path to Peak Performance

Your body’s inner clock, or circadian rhythm, doesn’t just decide when you’re most awake or tired; it also affects your performance. Many people don’t often consider the timing of their workouts, but it raises the question: Is it possible to sync your exercise routine with your body’s natural rhythm to optimize your results? YES! Read on to learn why circadian rhythms are important and how to utilize them.

What is a Circadian Rhythm?

Throughout centuries of evolution, the human body has intricately synchronized with a 24-hour internal clock, mirroring the Earth’s natural day-night cycle. Sleeping is easy at night, while engaging in tasks and activities is more manageable during daylight hours. This 24-hour clock, also known as our circadian rhythm, regulates our sleep patterns, hormonal rhythms, and fundamental bodily functions. Its evolutionary significance is profound, making adapting to alterations in this internal rhythm challenging—resulting in phenomena like jet lag or difficulties staying awake during a night shift job.

How does it affect my workout?

Specific workouts can be more effective based on your sleep schedule, fitness goals, and the time you perform them. Let’s assess typical workout times and determine which exercises are most efficient when aligned with your circadian rhythm.

Early Bird Workouts: 4 – 8 AM

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Depending on your lifestyle, a morning workout might be the only time you can get to LVAC and get those reps in. Good news for you! Science shows the muscle cells of early risers are more effective at burning sugar and fat. If your workouts focus on weight loss, 4 – 8 AM is the perfect time to train.

Evening Workouts: 3 – 6 PM

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The temperature of the human body peaks in the late afternoon, which means metabolic function is significantly enhanced. For those seeking peak athletic performance, the evening is the ideal time to work out. Research shows that athletes reach their goals more often in the evening. This means faster times, personal bests, and more physical power.

Night Owl Workouts: 9 PM – 12 AM

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Exercising later in the day may hinder your sleep quality. It’s harder to fall asleep with a high body temperature and elevated heart rate that comes with a good workout. While many individuals may assume that a night workout will tire them out and prepare them for a good night’s rest, research suggests otherwise. If a night workout is the only time your schedule permits, try selecting a less vigorous activity. Yoga will better prepare you for rest and mindfulness over a high-intensity workout.

A closer look at the connection between circadian rhythms and exercise brings a fresh perspective to our fitness journey. Whether you’re an early bird, evening enthusiast, or night owl, understanding and aligning your workout schedule with your natural rhythm can be the key to achieving your goals. So, remember that timing is not just everything; it’s the science behind unlocking your body’s potential.

Hero photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

LVAC Henderson

Health & Fitness Mind & Body
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