Millions of Americans spend time outside of their busy schedule exercising every day. but only 23% of adults over the age of 18 meet the recommended guidelines For both aerobic activities and muscle strengthening. The biggest obstacle for most people: not having enough time. Au opposite, according to a 2019 study from the CDC and Rand. The study polled more than 30,000 participants, and found that Americans have an average of more than five hours of free time per day.
Whether you’re considering starting an exercise regimen or a more experienced athlete, one of the biggest questions I hear is, “What is the best time to exercise?” Most people are fairly strict and protective when exercising. The choice to exercise in the morning or evening is often a product of a work schedule or childcare responsibilities. Or simply whether one is a “morning person” or a “night owl”.
But is there any science to support working out in the morning versus working out in the evening? newly Research study at Frontiers in Physiology Shed some light.
Early bird gets exercise worm?
This was a relatively small study from Skidmore University that collected data from 27 women and 20 men who were already very active with a regular exercise regimen. Participants were followed up over 12 weeks. They did one of four different exercise routines—stretching, resistance training, interval sprints, or endurance training—four times a week for one hour at a time. One group did the routine between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. and the other group between 6 and 8 p.m.
For the group that practiced in the morning:
- The women had a 7% greater loss of belly fat, a greater decrease in blood pressure and greater leg strength
For the group that practiced in the evening:
- Women had greater increases in upper body strength, strength, endurance and improved mood
- Men improved heart health, metabolic health, and emotional well-being
- The men also had greater weight loss and lower blood pressure
Dive deeper into other research
Previous studies that investigated the time-dependent effects of exercise were not consistent across the board with the results of this new study. In contrast, a Small 2019 study It found that men also experienced more weight loss if they exercised in the morning. But multiple Previous studies The results of the current study do not support improved metabolic health in men who exercise in the afternoon, including better insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control.
In January 2022, an international consortium of researchers did the work Fantastic research study which looked at molecular changes that occur in the cells of multiple organs in mice to try to determine the basic cellular level of what happens when you exercise in the morning versus the evening. Molecular characteristics in mice showed a greater dependence on fat to fuel morning workouts and a greater dependence on glucose to fuel afternoon workouts. While some might argue that we cannot extrapolate data from mice to humans, cellular processes at molecular levels are similar.
Does TikTok’s Pomegranate Pump Really Work? The answer may surprise you
On social media, people are drinking a gallon a day… How much water do you really need?
Additional factors that are assumed to play a role include sleep quality and hormones.
One possible explanation is that women tend to spend more time in the deep sleep phase, and therefore tend to be more alert and ready to exercise earlier in the morning. But there are a lot of men who prefer to exercise in the morning, too. This brings us to one of the biggest myths about sleep and exercise. Exercising too late in the evening or too close to bedtime will result in poor sleep quality. Again, it depends. Exercising late in the day may not affect those who describe themselves as night owls. And most importantly, a A meta-analysis identified 29 studies This indicates that exercise improves sleep quality or duration.
Don’t count the hormones
The levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, range between men and women in the morning. This may generate the need to “burn” stress for both men and women who prefer to do their cardio early in the morning. However, cortisol can have an inhibitory or catabolic effect on muscle building. So men and women whose goal is strength training may see Greater benefits with evening workouts.
It’s also worth noting that the most recent study found that macronutrient consumption did not play a role. Study participants were also asked to stick to the same exact eating regimen of meals every day at the same times for 12 weeks.
X Factor: You do you
Bottom line: This was a small study and there’s still a lot we don’t know about the time-dependent benefits of exercise. It adds to the body of evidence that the metabolic benefits are higher for men who exercise in the evening. For women whose goal is to burn fat, this study showed a clear benefit of morning exercise. And I think we can’t ignore the catabolic effects of cortisol. For men and women whose goal is to build strength, evening exercise may be best.
Whether you exercise in the morning or in the evening, the main point is that you exercise and you definitely reap its many benefits. If you’re feeling mentally better and enjoy working out first thing in the morning, stick with it! If you have a specific goal in mind, consider the results of studies in choosing your time of day to work.
Can daily coffee consumption increase your lifespan? Here’s what the latest research says
Michael Daignault, MD, a board-certified emergency physician in Los Angeles. He studied global health at Georgetown University and received his medical degree from Ben-Gurion University. He completed his residency training in emergency medicine at Lincoln Medical Center in the South Bronx. He is also a former US Peace Corps volunteer. Find it on Instagram @dr.daignault