Circadian rhythms are a daily cycle of sleep and wake cycles. It is this personal inborn natural cycle that regulates your physical, mental, hormonal and behavioral changes within a 24-hour period. Blood pressure, body temperature, mental alertness and metabolism are some of the physiological processes that can be affected by your personal internal clock. These rhythms respond to changes in the environment and can be set and reset.

Changes in the environment that can have an effect on circadian rhythm include light and dark, artificial light, temperatures within the environment, timing of meals and even the use of an alarm clock. Your personal internal rhythm can affect what time of day you prefer to exercise. So, are you a morning person or a night owl?

If you’re a morning person

It’s a no brainer: You should workout in the AM. Morning people feel more alert and motivated in the morning as the exercise jump starts their metabolism and research suggests that those who exercise in the morning tend to be more consistent with their exercise routine. The idea is you’ll get your workout in before any other events or distractions of the day. People who exercise earlier in the day generally find they can manage their time better and feel more energized throughout the day. If you do exercise in the morning, make sure to give yourself a little extra warm-up time to get your body temperature elevated and your muscles warm.

If you’re a night owl

Afternoon or evening exercise can also be the perfect way to unwind. Some people find that afternoon or evening workouts are more productive and help them relieve some of the stresses of the day. Another advantage is that if you work out in the evenings, your body is able to benefit from the natural repair of your muscles that occurs during sleep. Just make sure there is at least one hour between finishing exercise and going to bed.

Whether you exercise for weight loss, stress relief, cardiovascular benefits, or one of the many other health benefits, it is important to be consistent. Schedule that time for exercise based on what works best for you — morning, noon, or afternoon. The key is to exercise consistently on a routine basis.