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Should you exercise first thing in the morning or at night? Here’s what research says.

0 2 years ago

Millions of Americans carve time out of their busy schedule to exercise daily. But only 23% of adults aged 18+ meet the recommended guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. The biggest hurdle for most people: Not having enough time. Au contraire, says a 2019 study from the CDC and Rand. Surveying more than 30,000 participants, the study found that Americans have an average of more than five hours of free time per day.

Whether you’re considering starting a workout regimen or a more seasoned athlete, one of the biggest questions I hear is, “When is the best time to exercise?” Most people are fairly regimented and protective of when they exercise. Choosing 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.”

The early bird gets the exercise worm?

This was a relatively small study from Skidmore University that collected data from 27 women and 20 men who were already highly active with a regular exercise regimen. Participants were followed 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 each 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 who exercised in the morning:

  • Women had a 7% greater loss of belly fat, larger reduction in blood pressure and greater leg strength

For the group who exercised in the evening:

  • Women had a greater increase in upper body strength, power and endurance and mood improvement
  • Men had improved heart health, metabolic health and emotional well-being
  • Men also had a greater weight loss and reduction in blood pressure


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