Fitness by the clock

Use your body's internal clock to schedule your exercise workouts. A Florida researcher says afternoons are often ideal.

Ever wonder why you have more energy during certain times of day?

Perhaps it’s because your body is tapping into your internal clock to reach maximum health benefits.

“Everything in nature works on a rhythm that is defined by time — hours, days, nights, weeks, seasons, years, and more,” said Dr. Matthew Edlund, author of The Body Clock Advantage: Finding the Best Time of the Day to Succeed in Love, Work, Play and Exercise.

Edlund, director of the Center for Circadian Medicine in Sarasota, Fla., writes that there is an optimal time for activities we do regularly, such as eating, taking medicine, sleeping and one activity close to my heart — exercise.

Drawing on a decade of research on what he calls “body clock medicine,” Edlund directs the Sarasota Gulf Coast Sleep Institute. He says that to improve overall well being and health, your biological clock must coincide with daily activities.

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Moreover, when our bodies are not properly aligned with our body clocks, he says, the end result leads to weight gain, loss of sleep and lack of exercise.

“If you can get your innate body rhythms in sync with the food, activity and rest you need, you can not only get healthier but even feel better day to day,” he writes.

One way to achieve optimum health is through exercise. Opinions differ as to what time of day yields the best results. Edlund, however, says that based on his research, late afternoons are ideal.

For example, if one typically exercises mornings or during lunch, moving cardio routines to later in the day may be beneficial.

Specifically, he says that workouts between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. are advantageous for the following reasons: Oxygen use by the lungs is more effective, afternoon body temperature is at its daily peak, timing is ideal for maximizing muscular strength and flexibility, you have more energy and are less likely to get injured.

Although I’ve taught aerobics at 6:30 a.m., at lunch and in the evenings, I find my energy level is certainly higher later in the day. Therefore I tend to agree with Edlund’s theory. Still, morning workouts are best for me because of my busy schedule.

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If you’re currently working out mornings or at lunch, don’t abandon your routine. But if you’re just starting out, consider working out later in the day.

Stick with what works for you. Like any research, there are always exceptions. You’ve come too far on the fitness journey to quit!

The Body Clock Advantage can be ordered online at

Be healthy. Be well.

Sondra E. Z. Hines is an adjunct professor of health and wellness at a community college and is certified to teach group fitness and Zumba. Email:

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