What is the Best Time of Day to Exercise?

What Are the Best Times to Trade Stocks?

Unlike long-term investing, trading often has a short-term focus. A trader buys a stock not to hold for gradual appreciation but for a relatively quick turnaround, often within a set time period—whether that be a few days, a week, a month, or even a quarter.

And of course, day trading, as the name implies, has among the shortest time frames of all. The day trader’s analysis may be broken down into hours, minutes, and even seconds—and the time of day when a trade is made can be an important factor to consider.

Is there a best day of the week to buy stocks? Or a best day to sell stock? Does a best time of year to buy stocks exist? How about a best month to buy stocks, or to sell them?

In this article, we’ll show you how to time trading decisions according to daily, weekly, and monthly trends.

Key Takeaways Traders often have set holding periods to time when to enter and exit their trades.Day trading, as the name implies, has the shortest time frame, with trades broken down to hours, minutes, and even seconds. The time of day when a trade is made can be an important factor to consider.The closest thing to a hard-and-fast rule is that the first hour and last hour of a trading day are the busiest, offering the most opportunities, while the middle of the day tends to be the calmest and most stable period of most trading days.Some traders believe that certain days offer systematically better returns than others, but over the long run, there is little evidence for such a market-wide effect.

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Lifestyle Considerations

The most practical approach is to adapt your routine to fit your lifestyle. Allowing your exercise to naturally follow your schedule and personal tendencies can relieve the stress of needing to exercise, which will help you stick to it.

Some people are natural morning people, and a run helps them get ready for the day. Others might find an afternoon workout a great break in the day, or that exercise helps them unwind after work and blow off steam.

Likewise, your schedule may be better suited to a morning run than an evening workout. Between family commitments and work, it's also possible that you may only have a narrow window to squeeze in a workout at night.

While you may not feel normally like working out during the time you have available, it is possible to change your circadian rhythm to fit your schedule.

Night owls can also find comfort in the fact that studies have shown that exercise before bed may not affect the quality of your sleep. However, the one thing that everyone can agree on is that you need to get an adequate amount of sleep. Athletes who are sleep deprived show a significant reduction in performance.

Find the Reasons Why You Don't Work out in Order to Achieve Your Goals

Working

The funny thing I found out about our best time for working is that in some ways, everything I thought I knew about being productive was wrong. It turns out that circadian rhythms really affect how we work as well, so we all have peaks and troughs in our physical and mental capacity to get work done.

The interesting part of this is that the type of work we’re doing makes a difference to which time of the day we should choose to do it in. Here’s how it breaks down:

If you’re a morning lark, say, you’ll want to favor those morning hours when you’re feeling more fresh to get your most demanding, analytic work done. Using your brain to solve problems, answer questions and make decisions is best done when you’re at your peak, according to Scientific American:

Numerous studies have demonstrated that our best performance on challenging, attention-demanding tasks—like studying in the midst of distraction—occurs at our peak time of day. When we operate at our optimal time of day, we filter out the distractions in our world and get down to business.

For night owls, this is obviously a much later period in the day.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to do creative work, you’ll actually have more luck when you’re more tired and your brain isn’t functioning as efficiently. This sounds crazy, but it actually makes sense when you look at the reasoning behind it. It’s one of the reasons why great ideas often happen in the shower after a long day of work.

If you’re tired, your brain is not as good at filtering out distractions and focusing on a particular task. It’s also a lot less efficient at remembering connections between ideas or concepts. These are both good things when it comes to creative work, since this kind of work requires us to make new connections, be open to new ideas and think in new ways. So a tired, fuzzy brain is much more use to us when working on creative projects.

This Scientific American article explains how distractions can actually be a good thing for creative thinking:

Insight problems involve thinking outside the box. This is where susceptibility to “distraction” can be of benefit. At off-peak times we are less focused, and may consider a broader range of information. This wider scope gives us access to more alternatives and diverse interpretations, thus fostering innovation and insight.

You like to study with a little background noise

You should study in the afternoon.

If background noise helps you focus, the afternoon is your ideal time to study. Find a bustling cafe and camp out there for a few hours with your laptop and notes. The steady flow of traffic in and out of the shop will provide a perfect background rumble to help you get in your zone. (Plus, you can take breaks to people watch.)

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Study?

There is no one “best” time of day to study. We each have our most productive time of the day, when we have the most energy. Some people are morning people, who wake up with lots of energy. Others are night owls, and have more energy in the evening hours.

Just like each student has a unique learning style, different students may learn better at different times of the day. For some students, focusing on schoolwork is easier during the morning hours of the day, while others may find that studying at night works better for them.

Are There Really Best Times to Buy or Sell Stocks?

Historically, some days or months have tended to be better or worse for stocks. These so-called market anomalies challenged theories of efficient markets. However, research shows that as these anomalies became more well-known and trading became more automated, these have largely all disappeared.

You like to study on your own, but usually have a lot of questions

You should study in the late morning or early afternoon.

It’s possible to be an independent studier who asks a lot of questions. If that’s you, then you’re better off studying towards the middle of the day. This is when all the professors, tutors, and experts in your life are awake and available to respond to your questions via email or phone call.

Eating – Which meal at what time?

By far one of the trickiest topics to tackle is the optimal timing for eating. A quick search on Google reveals that there are as many viable diets as there are people. And yet, there are some great, general guidelines that we can follow.

A recent study in Cell Metabolism tried to find out, given all things equal, if timing actually makes a difference. 2 groups of mice were put onto the exact same diet in terms of caloric intake. The only difference was that the first group had access to the food all day round, whilst the second group only for 8 hours during peak activity.

The result according to the researchers was stunning:

The mice that ate only while active were 40% leaner and had lower cholesterol and blood sugar.

So, limiting your food intake to your 8 most active hours during the day could be a good idea. We can also dig a bit deeper into the optimal time for eating dinner in particular:

When you should eat dinner

When it comes to dinner, eating late generally conflicts with our internal body clock because it’s starting to wind down and get ready for sleep. If we’re simply not set up to process the food we’re taking in, it’s probably not the best time for a big meal.

Nutritionist Linda Morgan from the University of Surrey wanted to see how efficient we are at processing food at night compared to in the morning. She conducted an experiment where participants were given the exact same foods at night and in the morning. Then she tested their blood glucose levels to see how much glucose their bodies were hanging onto.

Morgan says blood glucose levels indicate how efficiently your body is processing and storing glucose, and high levels of glucose in the blood after a meal can point out future risks like diabetes. Her experiment found that blood glucose levels after an evening meal were much higher than when the exact same meal was eaten earlier in the day.

Morgan says this means we should try to get most of our calories earlier in the day, and have lighter, earlier evening meals when possible.

How to Adapt

Much of the recommended timing for exercise has to do with your circadian rhythm. It is a daily cycle that regulates many physiological functions, including alertness, blood pressure, body temperature, and metabolism.

Everyone has a 24-hour rhythm, and it is possible to adjust it or "teach" your body to perform better at certain times. It's much like adjusting to a new time on your alarm clock. The first week or two can be difficult, and you may fight waking up at an earlier time. In a month or so, though, your body gets used to the change, and many people find that they wake up before the alarm goes off.

You can do the same with your exercise routine. Once you determine that a particular time of day works best for your schedule, body, event, and other factors, you can begin to train your body to match it.

For example, if you start doing long runs in the morning, your body gets used to running at that time. You’ll also get accustomed to waking up, drinking, eating, using the bathroom, and running. After some time, it will become second nature, and the routine will help you stay motivated.

Is It OK to Exercise Before Bed?

Unless it is really the only time you will work out or the only time you feel the best, you should probably avoid it. The reason is that working out directly before bed can affect your sleep.

Most people have a hard time getting to sleep after a workout because exercise can throw off your melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, among other things. This isn’t ideal because sleep is very important for recovery. It’s when your body naturally produces most of its own performance-enhancing drugs in the form of hormones. If possible, eliminate anything that hurts your ability to sleep.

Exercise also requires a lot of nutrients, which are further depleted at night. If you’re on a strict diet, perhaps trying to lose weight, you run further risk by training and then not eating to recover from the workout prior to bed. If you’re on a low-calorie diet and plan to train hard at night, you should follow your workout with a nutritional recovery strategy, such as Beachbody Performance Recharge or a small meal before going to sleep.

I’m not the norm, so I’ll play the counterpoint to my point as I can fall asleep (and often sleep much better) immediately after a very hard workout. If you’re like me, there’s nothing wrong with training at night. Just follow nutritional protocols that don’t leave you depleted and starving when you wake up. I’ve done this and it can be so severe that you wake up in the middle of the night, a common issue with bodybuilders and fitness trainers getting ready for competition. This is not ideal as it means your body is essentially bonking during sleep. And while that’s okay if your goal is to pose in front of a crowd with absurdly low body fat, like a bodybuilder, it’s also a sign of starvation and, if done too long, will cause your body to begin to shut down its metabolic processes.

The bottom line is that everyone’s body responds differently. We all need to exercise and most of us can eat better. In between are a lot of individual variables. When it comes to getting your best possible workout, psychology often trumps physiology. Exercise when you can and pay close attention to your performance. Then choose your preferred workout time based on your results. It’s really that simple.

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