What time of day is best for exercise?

The optimal time of day for exercise has long sparked debates, with extensive research offering arguments both in favor of morning workouts and evening ones. The most recent findings, as reported by the Obesity Research Journal, suggest that the early morning may be particularly advantageous for weight loss. However, physical activity serves various purposes beyond weight management.

Numerous studies have explored the unique benefits associated with exercising at different times of the day, delving into their effects on the body and physiological processes. While weight loss remains a significant consideration, these studies also investigate implications for muscle mass, energy levels, and sleep patterns. It is important to note that there may not be a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving positive outcomes in all these areas by exercising at a specific time.

Here’s a breakdown of the key points from research regarding the optimal time for exercise:

Debating the Ideal Timing: The latest analysis, involving 5,285 participants and published on September 4th, sheds new light on the potential impact of morning workouts on weight loss. The study explored the connection between moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and obesity by categorizing participants into three groups based on their exercise timing: morning, midday, and evening. Results favored the morning group, who engaged in 150 minutes of activity per week between 7 and 9 a.m. They exhibited a consistent decrease in both BMI and waist circumference, whereas those exercising at midday (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or in the evening (5 to 8 p.m.) did not achieve the same results. While the findings suggest a potential role for morning MVPA in weight management, the study acknowledges the need for further clinical trials to confirm these observations.

Caution and Considerations: Researcher suggests that exercising in the early morning on an empty stomach could lead to greater weight loss compared to other times of the day. However, Ma emphasizes that these results may be influenced by various factors beyond the timing of activity, such as age and individual responses to exercise.

Complex Landscape: Determining the best exercise timing is not straightforward, as numerous studies and trials have yielded varied results over the years. This complexity arises because physical activity positively impacts diverse aspects of health, including stress levels, energy, and sleep, some of which have not been fully considered in previous clinical research.

In conclusion, the question of when to exercise remains multifaceted, with the ideal timing likely dependent on individual preferences, lifestyles, and specific fitness goals. While the recent findings highlight the potential benefits of morning workouts for weight management, further research is needed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between exercise timing and overall health.

Different perspectives shed light on the ideal timing for exercise:

Evening Favorable for Strength: Research from 2012 suggests that evenings might be primed for exercises requiring short bursts of intense activity, potentially resulting in longer and more robust workouts than in the morning. Fitness expert Jillian Michaels acknowledges this, emphasizing the potential benefits of evening exercise.

Aerobic Exercise Flexible: Aerobic activities, which play a crucial role in weight loss, appear to be less influenced by the time of day, as a 2017 study indicates. Aerobic workouts remain effective regardless of when they are performed. However, fasted exercise, conducted after a 10-12 hour fasting period, may enhance fat loss, making morning sessions practical.

Late-Night Workouts and Sleep: Late-night exercise may disrupt sleep patterns due to elevated heart rate and core body temperature. For those who prefer evening workouts, selecting less vigorous activities like yoga and avoiding high-intensity exercises is recommended.

Morning Consistency: Consistency in exercise timing fosters the formation of a habit. Morning workouts offer an advantage in this regard, as they allow individuals to dedicate time before daily commitments and distractions arise.

Morning Routine Alters Circadian Clock: While sleep patterns, hunger, and hormones are influenced by natural daily rhythms, research suggests that these factors can be adjusted. Early morning exercise routines can gradually shift an individual’s circadian clock, eventually making waking up earlier feel more natural.

Personal Preference Prevails: Ultimately, the best time for exercise is the one that aligns with personal preferences and schedules. A 2021 study emphasizes the significance of individual choice and commitment to a workout routine. As exercise science expert Marisa Mickey notes, the key is finding a time when you can fully engage and invest in your workout.

In conclusion, the optimal exercise timing is subjective, influenced by individual factors and preferences. The most important aspect is dedicating time to fitness that suits your lifestyle and allows you to give your workout your all.

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Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Memphis Tidings journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.