The Best Time of Day to Run, According to Science

Pencil it in

Look: Your schedule is your schedule. Sometimes, the hour of the day you go for a run is out of your control. But according to science, there are a multitude of reasons why the early evening is actually the best time of day to pound the pavement. Read on for the full explanation.

Should You Work Out in the Morning or at Night?

At Night, You're Much Less Injury-prone

When you roll out of bed first thing in the morning after several hours of sleep, your muscles tend to be stiff from a lack of movement. This means that--unless you take time to stretch--you're much more likely to strain something during a morning run. On the flip side, in the evening, your core temperature is elevated and your body is primed to respond to terrain changes (like that quarter mile that’s all uphill).

You're Also More Likely To Lose Weight

The hormones that fuel your metabolism take time to rev up in the morning after fasting all night, but running before dinner (when your metabolism is fully functional) helps your body continue to burn calories well into the night. There’s also a psychological benefit to an evening run. Think about it: If you ran five miles, you’re probably a lot less likely to sabotage your efforts by eating junk.

Keeping Your Pace Won't Be As Hard

Lung function is 6 percent better in the evening than in the morning, according to a recent study. For runners, this means better pacing and an improved per mile speed.

You Can Say Buh-bye To Pent-up Stress

The best cure for a tough day at the office/with the kids/working from home is a nighttime run. It’s commonly known that exercise gives you a major endorphin rush, which does more than just improve your mood. It helps you relax.

You'll Also Get A Better Night's Sleep

Remember that zen state you felt right after your p.m. jog? It could be the ticket to blissful slumber, too. A University of California study found that people who exercise at night are able to zonk out a mere 30 minutes after their workout possibly due to reduced blood pressure and muscle tension after running.

Rachel Bowie Headshot
Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
read full bio