Exercise is good for you no matter what time of day it is, but a new randomized control trial found that breaking a sweat in the morning and evening may target different parts of the body and mind.
Over a 12-week period, 27 healthy, active women and 20 healthy, active men participated in a strict diet and exercise program.
The weekly routine included four days of exercise, including sprints, resistance training, stretching and endurance exercises, plus three days of rest on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Half of the group performed their hour-long bouts of daily exercise in the morning before breakfast, while the other half completed their pre-dinner routine in the evening.
All participants eventually showed significant improvements in their fitness and health, but morning and evening exercises had different results, especially for women.
Participants who exercised in the morning burned 7 percent more belly fat and lowered their blood pressure 7 percent more than women who exercised in the evening. The morning routine also increased leg strength.
On the other hand, women who exercised in the evening showed greater gains in upper body strength, mood, and food cravings. Furthermore, muscle strength improved by 29 percent and endurance improved by 15 percent compared to morning exercises.
Compared to women, men in the trial were generally less affected by exercise time. However, evening training resulted in a slight decrease in blood pressure and increased fat oxidation compared to morning exercise. Evening workouts improved fatigue by 55 percent.
“Based on our findings, women interested in reducing belly fat and blood pressure, while simultaneously increasing leg muscle strength, should consider exercising in the morning. However, women interested in gaining upper body muscle strength, ability For endurance, as well as for improving general mood and eating, evening exercise is the preferred option.” physiologist Paul Arceiro of Skidmore College explains.
“Conversely, evening exercise is ideal for men interested in improving heart and metabolic health, as well as emotional well-being.”
The study is the first of its kind to explore how a varied exercise regimen affects individuals depending on the time of day they exercise.
previous search It was also found that morning exercise is consistent Different physical results Compared to evening or afternoon exercise, however, data on varied exercise is scarce, and most studies have focused on males only.
today, Some estimates Female participants are included in only 3 percent of all sports science research, and animal studies are often no better.
former Studies on miceFor example, it has found that exercising in the morning contributes more to fat loss, while exercising in the evening has greater control over blood sugar levels. However, this research focused only on male mice that did one bout of aerobic exercise.
The new, long-term trial includes both men and women, although the sample size is limited in other respects. Almost all participants were Caucasian and physically fit.
Despite these limitations, the results indicate that the timing of daily exercise affects female physical performance to a greater degree than male physical performance.
Why this has not been determined, but the authors have some hypotheses. former studies It showed that men and women have different circadian rhythms, which influences a person’s physiology and psychology throughout the day.
In fact, Every cell in the human body It corresponds to its own clock, and cycles through activity patterns over approximately 24 hours.
Timing exercise to coincide with certain peaks and pits in hormonal levels, metabolism, and neuromuscular factors could, in theory, affect a person’s muscle strength, cardiovascular system, body composition, and physical performance.
The authors suspect, for example, that a night of fasting somehow prepares the female body for greater fat loss in the morning.
On the other hand, men who exercise in the evening work with their metabolism at its peak. This may provide an advantage when it comes to using body fat as fuel for evening workouts.
While losses in body fat were similar in male participants regardless of exercise time, those who exercised in the evening showed increased fat oxidation, which may be a sign that the body is preparing for actual long-term fat loss.
Courses longer than 12 weeks can help determine if this is indeed the case.
The ideal time to exercise is still hotly debated, but more diverse and long-term experiments like the current one could help clarify the conflicting data scientists have collected so far.
The study was published in Frontiers in Physiology.