It was found that, for women, morning workouts reduced abdominal fat and improved blood pressure compared to late training. For men, evening exercise results in greater fat burning and better blood pressure control. Evening exercise also enhanced the benefits of strength training, but more so for women.
The study of exercise timing is part of the growing science of chronology, which focuses on how our internal clocks affect nearly every aspect of our physiology.
The human body, like other mammals, plants, reptiles and insects, has a spontaneous 24 hour . work on circadian rhythmOur brains send and receive biochemical signals with a master clock system that coordinates with the molecular clocks inside our cells to direct a thumping symphony of biological processes.
This rhythm, in turn, responds to signals from the outside world, particularly daylight and darkness, but also when we eat, sleep and exercise.
recent studies in rats Allowed large groups of rodents to walk on exercise wheels at different times of the day. Studies have shown that animals’ heart rate, fat burning, gene expression and body weight change significantly depending on when they exercise – even if the exercise itself is the same.
However, human studies of exercise timing have been more conflicting. Some show that people burn excess fat and lose more weight Exercising early, especially before breakfast, while others suggest we gain more health benefits from noon or evening workout,
But most of these studies were small and only included men with metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity. That’s why we know very little about optimal exercise times for healthy men – and even less about the best times for women. That’s why the new study is so worthwhile.
A real-world study of exercise time
Published in May in Frontiers in Physiology, the research was designed to reflect real-world demographics, said study lead author Paul Arciero, director of the Human Nutrition, Performance and Metabolism Laboratory at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. Told.
All volunteers identified themselves as either male or female, and more than half of the 56 participants were female. All of them were also healthy and physically active but were not athletes.
Researchers tested the health, strength and fitness of volunteers, then divided them into two groups with equal numbers of men and women. One group was asked to exercise four times a week between 6 am and 8 pm, the other group was instructed to exercise between 6:30 and 8:30 pm.
Each group participated in a similar workout. Once a week, he lifted weights. The next day, they did about 35 minutes of interval training (running, swimming or cycling, resting and repeating as much as possible for about a minute). Another day, he did yoga or Pilates. They ended the week with about an hour of running, cycling, or other aerobic exercise.
The groups maintained this routine for 12 weeks, then returned to the laboratory for re-testing.
everyone in the study was Leaner, faster, fitter, stronger, healthier and more resilient, whether they worked out early or late.
Do you want to reduce belly fat? Or build strength?
But the relevant differences between the groups were based on what time of day they exercised. Here’s what the researchers found:
- For women, fat burns better in the morning. On average, female early exercisers lost about 3 percent more body fat than evening exercisers, with much of the loss from their waists. Women who exercised in the morning lost about 7 percent more belly fat than women who exercised in the evening. (None of the volunteers lost total body weight, as they gained muscle as they lost fat.)
- The blood pressure of female exercisers with morning exercise was also significantly better than similar exercise in the evening.
- Evening exercises by women, meanwhile, increased potency. Overall, the evening exercisers improved their upper body strength by 7 percent more than the morning group, and they also powered through more sit-ups and push-ups.
- For men, evening exercise was the clear winner in terms of health. Evening exercisers significantly lowered their cholesterol levels, while morning exercisers surprisingly raised them slightly. Evening exercise also reduced the men’s fat. By the end of the study, the bodies of male evening exercisers were burning about 28 percent more fat during the workout than at the beginning, a change that may increase body fat loss. Fat burning in the morning group increased only slightly.
- However, any time was the right time for men to increase their strength and fitness. In men, morning and evening exercisers increased their bench press, leg press, sit-ups, push-ups, and other strength gains to roughly the same extent whether they exercised early or late.
What these results mean in practice is that women with specific health or fitness goals may want to improve the timing of their workouts, Arciro said. If you’re a woman hoping to lose inches in the middle, consider a morning workout. If your goal is strength, evening exercises may be more effective.
For men, exercising early or late seems comparable to strength and fitness, but evening exercise may have specific health benefits, Arceiro said.
“Still, it’s still early days in terms of providing personalized prescriptions for the optimal time of day to exercise,” said John Hawley, head of the exercise and nutrition research program at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. studied exercise Metabolism and time but were not included in this study.
They pointed out that the new study didn’t control for women’s menstrual cycles or track people’s chronology—whether they were naturally morning or evening people—both of which may influence exercise responses. It also didn’t include midday exercise or look into why men and women reacted so differently to exercise time. Arciero suspects hormones and other cellular and genetic influences, and plans for follow-up studies to learn more, he said.
For now, the main focus of the study is that the benefits we get from exercise can be corrected over time. But we have the advantage, regardless, that “any time of day you choose to exercise is the right time,” Hawley said.
Do you have any fitness questions? E-mail YourMove@washpost.com And we can answer your question in a future column.