When should I fit exercise within my daily schedule? For most, the answer depends on our family’s schedule and working hours, and perhaps on whether we’re “larks” or “night owls.”
But over the past decade, researchers have found that much more hangs on this question than these constraints.
That’s because recent findings suggest that the effectiveness of exercise depends on the time of day (Exercise Time Of Day, ETOD).
Scientists from Skidmore College confirmed that ETOD affects the effectiveness of exercise and they showed that these effects differ between types of exercise, and between women and men.
The research is published in Frontiers in Physiology and was conducted by Dr. Paul J Arciero et al.
In the study, the team recruited 30 women and 26 men to participate. All were between 25 and 55 years old, healthy, highly active, nonsmokers, and with normal weight.
They were trained by coaches over 12 weeks, following a RISE program: depending on day of the week, either 60min of resistance (R) training, sprint interval (I) training, stretching (S) training, or endurance (E) training.
Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays were rest days. The participants followed a specially designed meal plan with a protein intake between 1.1 and 1.8g per kg body weight per day.
There were two regimes: exclusively training in the morning (60min between 06:30 and 08:30), or in the evening (between 18:00 and 20:00).
The team found that all participants improved in overall health and performance over the course of the trial, irrespective of their allocation to morning or evening exercise.
The finding demonstrates the benefits of both morning and evening multimodal (RISE) exercise to improve cardiometabolic and mood health, as well as physical performance outcomes in women and men.
But crucially, they also show that ETOD determines the strength of improvements in physical performance, body composition, cardiometabolic health, and mood.
All women reduced their total body fat, abdominal and hip fat, and blood pressure over the trial, but these improvements were greater in morning-exercising women.
Only evening-exercising men showed a decrease in their ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, respiratory exchange ratio, and carbohydrate oxidation, as fat became the preferred fuel source.
The finding showed that women interested in reducing belly fat and blood pressure, while at the same time increase leg muscle power should consider exercising in the morning.
However, women interested in gaining upper body muscle strength, power and endurance, as well as improving overall mood state and food intake, evening exercise is the preferred choice.
Conversely, evening exercise is ideal for men interested in improving heart and metabolic health, as well as emotional well-being.
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