Comparing the Benefits of Morning vs Evening Runs
The big debate: morning vs evening runs.
Which is better?
Running is a highly beneficial form of exercise that should be incorporated into our daily routines (see running everday for 2 weeks). It provides you with;
- numerous physical and emotional benefits
- weight loss
- improved cardiovascular health
- burn fat by running at night
- increased endurance
- ....and reduced stress levels.
However.... the time of day you choose to run can significantly impact the benefits you derive from it. While some people prefer running in the morning, others swear by evening runs.
In this Night Buddy article, we'll explore the benefits of each and help you decide which time is best for you.
The Science Behind Morning and Evening Runs
Before diving into the advantages of each, it's essential to understand the science behind the circadian rhythms of the body (also see our guide on why it feels hard to run at night.
Here's the thing...
Our bodies have a natural biological clock that dictates our sleeping and waking times. This internal clock also affects our metabolism, hormone levels, and energy levels throughout the day. When we exercise, our body's response to it depends on the time of day.
#1 Circadian Rhythms and Running Performance
Research has shown that the body's levels of cortisol - a hormone responsible for regulating metabolism - are highest in the morning. This hormone boost can provide an additional boost of energy that can help you start your day on a high note.
However, it's important to note that cortisol levels can be affected by stress, so if you're feeling partic
morning vs evening runularly anxious or overwhelmed, it may be best to hold off on that morning run.
On the other hand, studies have also shown that our body temperature naturally increases throughout the day, reaching its peak in the late afternoon.
This increase in body temperature can improve our endurance and performance during evening runs. Additionally, the body's natural release of endorphins - chemicals that produce feelings of happiness and well-being - is also at its highest in the late afternoon and early evening, making an evening run a great way to boost your mood after a long day... Perfect!
#2 Hormonal Differences in Morning and Evening Runs
Another factor to consider when choosing your running time is the fluctuation of hormone levels throughout the day.
Testosterone levels are highest in the morning, which can lead to better muscle growth, but can also make injury more likely.
In contrast, melatonin levels, which help us regulate our sleep-wake cycles, are lowest in the evening. So... This leads to better sleep quality, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep when running in the evening... We all want better sleep, right?
It's also important to note that estrogen levels in women can affect running performance.
Also key to note...
Estrogen levels are highest in the first half of the menstrual cycle, which can lead to improved endurance and performance during morning runs. However, during the second half of the cycle, when estrogen levels drop, evening runs may feel easier and more comfortable.
#3 Body Temperature and Running Efficiency
The body's internal temperature can also affect our exercise performance. After a night's sleep, our body temperature is at its lowest, which can make it harder to start an intense workout in the morning. However, as the day progresses, our body temperature naturally rises, which can make running feel easier in the evening.
Additionally, in hot climates, running in the morning can be more comfortable as temperatures are usually cooler than in the evening.
It's also important to consider the impact of hydration on body temperature and running efficiency. Studies have shown that dehydration can lead to decreased endurance and performance, as well as an increased risk of injury.
To ensure optimal performance during morning or evening runs, it's essential to stay properly hydrated throughout the day.
Advantages of Morning Runs!
#1 Kickstarting Your Metabolism
One of the most significant advantages of running in the morning is the boost it provides to your metabolism.
By exercising first thing in the morning, you'll start your day with a burst of energy that can help you burn more calories throughout the day.... Make sure you enjoy your morning coffee before the run...
#2 Boosting Your Mood and Energy Levels
Morning runs can also give your mood and energy levels a boost. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood enhancers that can help you feel more alert and positive throughout the day.
#3 Consistency and Habit Formation
Running in the morning can also help you establish a consistent exercise routine. By making it a habit to run in the morning, you're more likely to stick to it as opposed to running in the evening when other plans may come up and disrupt your workout schedule.
#4 Better Air Quality and Cooler Temperatures
If you live in an urban area, the air quality is generally better in the morning. Additionally, running in the morning can provide you with cooler temperatures, making it more comfortable to run in hotter climates.
Advantages of Evening Runs
#1 Stress Relief After a Long Day
Running in the evening can help you unwind after a long day at work. Exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce stress levels and boost your mood.
By including an evening run in your daily routine, you can release any tension and clear your mind of the day's stresses.
#2 Increased Running Performance
As we mentioned earlier, our body temperatures are at their highest in the late afternoon. This means that running in the evening can help you improve your endurance and performance by allowing you to push yourself harder during your workout.
#3 Social Benefits and Group Runs
Evening runs can also provide social benefits if you choose to run with a group. It's easier to coordinate with friends and family when running in the evening, which can make the workout more enjoyable and motivating.
#4 Better Sleep Quality
Running in the evening can also improve your sleep quality. The slight increase in body temperature that exercise provides can help you relax and fall asleep more easily, resulting in a restful night's sleep.
Which is best suited to you?
Personal Schedule and Lifestyle
The most important factor to consider when choosing your running time is your personal schedule and lifestyle. If you're a morning person and prefer to get your workout done before the day starts, then morning runs may be the best option for you.
If you have a more flexible schedule and prefer to unwind after work, then evening runs may be a better fit.
Weather and Climate
The weather conditions in your area can also affect your running time. If you live in a hot climate, running in the morning may be more comfortable as temperatures are generally cooler. If you live in a cooler climate, evening runs may be more enjoyable as the temperature will have warmed up throughout the day.
Safety and Visibility
Ensuring your safety while running should always be a top priority. If you're running in the dark, it's important to choose a well-lit route and wear reflective clothing. You may also want to consider carrying a phone or a GPS watch with you in case of an emergency.
Training Goals and Race Preparation
Your running time can also depend on your training goals and race preparation. If you're training for a race that's in the morning, it may be beneficial to add morning runs to your routine to help your body adjust to the early start. However, for evening races, you may want to focus more on training during the evening to prepare your body for the late start time.
Final thoughts from the Night Buddy Team!
Ultimately, the best running time for you depends on your personal preferences, schedule, and lifestyle. Whether you choose to run in the morning or the evening, remember to prioritise safety, comfort, and consistency in your routine. Also, ensure that you are eating the right food alongside your exercise.
With the right mindset and motivation, you can reap the numerous benefits that running has to offer at any time of the day.