A new study published in the Journal of Physiology has found the best exercise time to adjust the body clock.
The finding could help many people who need to deal with jet lag, shift work or military deployments.
The research was done by a team from Arizona State University.
For people with unique bedtimes or body clock disruptions, the risks of sleep disturbance, impaired mood and alertness, and accidents are higher.
In addition, shift work is linked to a high risk of cancer.
Therefore, adjusting the body clock is very important for their health.
Previously, scientists have found that exercising can lead to changes to the body clock or circadian rhythm.
However, there was no clear understanding of what time of day exercise causes delays and when exercise advances the body clock.
This makes it difficult to help people who have body-clock disturbances.
In this study, the researchers aimed to address the issue.
They examined exercise at eight different times of the day or night in 101 people.
They found several time slots in which people can exercise to adjust their body clock:
When exercising at 7 a.m. or between 1 and 4 p.m., people could advance the body clock, which would help them start activities earlier the next day.
When exercising between 7 and 10 p.m., people could delay the body clock, which would help people shift their peak performance later the next day.
The researchers believe their research provides a solution for people who need to change their body clock.
The study is the first to compare women vs. men and older adults vs. young adults. No effects of sex or age were found.
In the future, they plan to examine how lighter-intensity exercise or shorter exercise could influence the body clock.
They also want to combine exercise with bright light and melatonin to see the effects on the body clock.
The study authors include ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation professor Shawn Youngstedt and his co-authors Jeffrey Elliott and Daniel Kripke.
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Further reading: Journal of Physiology.