The Exact Time of Day You’re Most Likely to Work Out — Successfully

Rise, shine, and grind: Morning exercisers are more likely to work out consistently, according to a massive data analysis released today. (Photo: Stocksy)

Fitness experts have long said that exercising in the morning can help you stay consistent with your workouts. But there hasn’t been much research to back up that claim — until now.

Jawbone crunched the data from more than 1 million people who track their steps and workouts using Jawbone’s fitness tracking products and apps. The results, released to Yahoo Health today in advance of publication on the Jawbone blog, confirm that people who exercise in the morning are more likely to work out consistently (defined as three or more workouts per week).

The magic hour for workouts? Six o’clock in the morning, according to the data. About 11 percent of the people who sweat three or more days a week exercised at 6 a.m. — a far greater percentage than any other hour of the day. Five a.m. was the second most popular time for consistent exercisers, followed by 9 a.m.

People who were inconsistent with their workouts, in contrast, tended to hit the gym around 6 p.m.

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When data scientists took a closer look through the immense amount of information gathered by users, some interesting — and potentially useful — patterns emerged. 

“We can review millions of workouts from hundreds of thousands of users across demographics, countries and over many years, which allows us to do analysis and uncover relationships that we otherwise couldn’t see,” Brian Wilt, head of data science and engineering for Jawbone, tells Yahoo Health. 

The more frequent your workouts, the happier you’ll be, according to Jawbone data. (Graph: Jawbone)

Here are a few of the key insights from the new analysis:

  1. The happiest people exercise six or seven days per week.

    The UP app allows users to track their mood in addition to physical activity, food, and sleep. On average, the more often a person worked out, the better his or her mood. In addition, there is a substantial bump in average happiness between people who exercise five or fewer days per week and those who sweat six or seven days per week. And overall, everyone reports better moods on days they work out.

  2. If you want to work out early, do it at home in front of your TV.

    The analysis also broke out the data by exercise type. One of the biggest findings: People who followed the P90X DVD program, designed as a 90-day home workout challenge, were most likely to get up early.

  3. Sign up for classes or group sports if you’re a night owl.

    There were a few big exceptions to the morning exercise trend: Zumba fans were most likely to work out in the evenings, likely due to class scheduling. People also tend to do organized sports like baseball and basketball at 6 p.m., so consider a recreational league if you need motivation to stick with evening workouts. Six p.m. was also a popular time for yoga and Pilates classes.

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The data, which was collected anonymously, will help Jawbone fine-tune its Smart Coach recommendations, Wilt says. “We are using these data to learn when is the best time to give people a little nudge or reminder to work out more or change their habits, depending on what their favorite workouts are and knowing what makes them happy,” he tells Yahoo Health. 

The Smart Coach feature of Jawbone’s UP app recommends step goals, bedtimes, and other changes based on your patterns. (Screenshot: Yahoo Health)

View the full report here. Keep in mind that these findings are based on averages. While they can provide a general picture of what works, only you know what’s best for you. As the adage goes, “The best time to work out is when you’ll do it.”

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