The gym at the beginning of the year can be a busy place, what with regular gym-goers training alongside new members kicking off their new year health regimes. Instead of working out at peak times (7.30am-9am and 5.30pm-8pm), why not slot a sweat session into another part of your day? Choosing a quieter time to visit the gym, like one of the slots below, may well benefit you health-wise.
THE EARLY BIRD WORKOUT
A lot of scientific research has gone into finding the optimum time for us to exercise, and though many different studies have concluded there are benefits to exercising at many different times throughout the day, many suggest that exercise is most effective in the morning.
For example, the Appalachian State University conducted research a few years ago, which proved that morning workouts went on to reduce your blood pressure for the rest of the day and also improved your sleep that night.
Other studies have shown that early exercise can boost your metabolism, raise your mood and provide you with more energy for the day ahead. So, beating even the pre-work crowd to the gym every day will make you feel great – even if the sound of your alarm doesn't...
THE POST-LUNCH WORKOUT
Tearing yourself away from your desk during the day is hard at the best of times, but for women, peeling off to hit the gym just after lunch is best for burning fat.
A study by the University of Surrey has recently shown that women burn off more fat during a workout after having consumed carbohydrates. This is because women preserve carbs during exercise and use fat as their main source of fuel. Obviously exercising straight after a meal can be uncomfortable, so leave at least one hour between eating and exercising. This way you won’t feel too full but your body will still have energy for the workout ahead.
The study also claimed that the bulk of a woman's fat burning occurs in the three hours after working out and that eating anything, especially carbs, within this period would considerably stunt her fat burning abilities. Dr Adam Collins who managed the study suggests that: "If women want to maximise their fat burning, they should wait at least 90 minutes after exercising before eating.
So ladies, if you're looking to burn fat, physical activity after lunch is a better option than before breakfast or dinner.
THE PRE-DINNER AND DRINKS WORKOUT
Instead of going to the gym after a day at the office, men should get there before the post-work crowd and sweat it out late afternoon or early evening.
The same study by the University of Surrey has shown that it's best for males to exercise before eating. The study states that men more easily burn off carbohydrates rather than fat (carbs are men's fuel of choice, say), therefore it's better for men to exercise before eating so that fat is burned and not recently-eaten carbs.
For men wanting to get rid of fat, hitting the gym ahead of dinner or even a trip to the pub (for a well-deserved beer) is a smart move.