What is the most appropriate time to exercise? Your gender could play a role. It is The Washington Post

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There’s no incorrect time to exercise however there are instances that are more appropriate than others.

The most optimal time to exercise is contingent on your gender and whether you are looking to lose weight or become stronger, as per an interesting new study of females and males and the timing of exercise.

It was found that for women, exercise in the morning eliminated abdominal fat and raised blood pressure more than training in the evening. For men, exercise in the evening resulted in greater burning of fat and improved management of blood pressure. The evening workout also enhanced the benefits of strengthening however, it was more beneficial for women.

The study of timing for exercise is an integral part of the growing field of chronobiology. It is focused on how our internal clocks influence nearly every aspect of our physical physiology.

Human bodies, just like the bodies of other mammals, reptiles, insects, and plants have an inherent 24 hour circadian rhythm. This is facilitated by an internal master clock in our brains, which transmits and receives biochemical signals which coordinate with the molecular clocks within our cells. These signals direct an enthralling symphony of biological processes.

This rhythm responds to signals coming from outside the world, specifically light and darkness as well as when we take a nap, eat or exercise.

Recent studies of mice allowed large groups of rodents exercise on wheels at different times of the morning. The studies revealed that the rodents heart rates and fat burning levels, weight and gene expression differ significantly, based on the time they exerciseeven if the activity itself is identical.

The human studies on the timing of exercise have found more contradictions, however. Some studies suggest that people burn more fat and shed more weight when they exercise early in the morning, especially prior to breakfast. Other studies claim that we can reap greater health benefits from evening or afternoon exercise.

However, the majority of these studies were of a small size and included only people with metabolic disorders like Type 2 diabetes high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or overweight. Therefore, we know very little about the best timing for exercise for healthy men and more importantly, we know very little about the ideal time for females. That’s why the new study is so important.

A real-world investigation of timing for exercise

In May, Frontiers in Physiology, the study is designed in order to capture the real-world population trends, according to Paul Arciero, the director of the Human Nutrition, Performance & Metabolism Laboratory at Skidmore College, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and lead researcher of the study.

The participants self-described as male or female and over half of the participants were female. They were also all physically fit and healthy but were not athletic.

The researchers analyzed the volunteers their health, strength and fitness. They then randomly divided the participants into two groups which had equal amounts of males and women. The first group was required to exercise 4 times a every week in the morning during the hours between a.m. until 8 a.m. Another group was instructed to exercise during the evening between 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Each group participated in the same training session. Each week they lifted weights. The following day, they performed approximately 35 minutes of interval-training (running either swimming or doing as much cycling they can for around a minute before stopping and then repeating). A different day, they took part in Yoga or Pilates. They concluded their week by doing about an hour of cycling, running or some other form of aerobic activities.

The groups followed this pattern for 12 weeks and then returned back to the lab for testing.

Every person in the study was everyone in the study wasleaner more agile, faster, fitter healthier, stronger and more flexible regardless of whether they were working out in the morning or later.

Do you want to lose the belly fat? or build muscle?

There were nonetheless significant variations between groups according to the was the time they exercised. What they found:


  • For women, fat burns off more quickly when they woke up. Females who exercised early lost approximately 3 percent more body fat than evening workouters, with a lot of their weight loss being due to their waistlines. The early exercisers shed approximately seven percent extra abdominal fat than those who exercise at night. (None of the participants lost weight as they gained muscle mass as they shed fat. )

  • Morning exercise has also reduced blood pressure for female exercisers much better than workouts that were similar at night.

  • Women who exercised in the evening in the meantime, increased the gains in strength. Overall, evening exercisers increased their upper body strength by 7 percent greater than the morning group as well as putting through more push-ups and sit-ups.

  • For men, exercise at night was the most effective in regards to health. The exercisers in the evening drastically reduced their cholesterol levels, whereas the morning exercisers, shockingly increased their cholesterol levels. Exercise in the evening also boosted the metabolism of men. At the end this study men’s bodies of evening exercisers had burned around 28 percent more calories as compared to the initial workout the study, which can result in body fat loss. The morning group’s fat-burning increased just a little.

  • It was any moment for men to increase their strength and endurance. Men, in general, the those who exercised in the morning and evening increased their sit-ups, leg press as well as push-up performance to about the same amount, no matter if they exercised in the early or late hours.

What this suggests in terms of practical application is that women who have specific fitness or health goals might be looking to alter the time of their exercises, Arciero said. If you’re a woman who wants to lose weight at the waist, think about doing your workouts in the morning. If you’re looking to build muscle morning workouts could be more efficient.

For males, exercising later or earlier is comparable for fitness and strength however, evening workouts could offer specific health benefits, Arciero said.

However, “it is early days in terms of providing individualized prescriptions for the ideal timing of the day for exercise” explained John Hawley who is the director of the Exercise and Nutrition Research Program at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia, who has extensively studied the effects of exercise on metabolism and timing, but wasn’t associated with this study.

He noted that the study didn’t control for menstrual cycles of women or follow the chronotypes of people — whether they are naturally morning or evening peopleeach of which can influence the exercise response. Also, it did not consider the effects of midday exercise, nor did it examine the reasons why women and men responded differently to the timing of exercise. Arciero thinks that hormones could be responsible as well as other genetic and cellular influences and plans to conduct further studies to find out more the cause, he added.

The research’s main conclusion is that the timing of exercise can alter what we can gain from exercise. We do benefit regardless therefore “any moment of the day you exercise is the best time to do it,” Hawley said.

Are you struggling with a fitness concern? Email [email protected] and we may answer your question in a future column.