Does When You Work Out Matter?

Does When You Work Out Matter?

Everyone has their opinions on what's best when it comes to exercise. Some will tell you only to work out in the mornings. Others will say take a day off between workouts so your body can rest. For every dumbell rack and treadmill, there are double the amount of suggestions doled out about how to maximize your workout -- but is there actual science behind it?

According to a Mayo Clinic physiologist, keeping a steady pattern of workouts in lieu of spreading them out randomly could have a positive impact on your progress. Dr. Michael Joyner tells the New York Times that during some studies with animals, daily consistency among workouts led to improved results.

"There is good data in animals showing that when running wheels are locked ... the positive metabolic aspects of training start to dissipate within days." Also in the study, evidence showed that when subjects skipped days between workouts, their endurance was less than if they had exercised consecutively. 

The article also cites a 2011 study that, somewhat fascinatingly, tracked the injury rates of circus acrobats compared to their days on and off. When the acrobats took off two days or less, their risk of injury lessened, but those who had a break of three or more days since activity had a higher likelihood of getting hurt. 

Obviously, the majority of us aren't circus acrobats, but whether you're flying on trapezes or just running on a treadmill, Dr. Joyner says there's good findings that prove you should try to avoid major gaps in your workout schedule. "The key is probably to not miss more than two days in a row ... and skipping only one day is even better.”