A new study shows that there are optimal times of day to achieve specific exercise goals, depending on whether you’re male or female.
Research shows that morning vs. evening exercise produces different results, especially in women. The study also looks at the effect of hours of exercise on a person’s mood.
The timing of the training changes the effect of the sport
Not everyone exercises for the same reason. For some, exercise is a way to treat a health problem like high blood pressure. Others train to strengthen one body part or another, others to improve their mood. A new study suggests that the time of day a person exercises can produce different results. Again, these results are not the same for women and men.
Professor Paul J. Arciero, lead author of the study and professor in the Department of Health and Human Physiological Sciences at Skidmore College in New York, explains in the study that the best time to exercise is when people can fit it into their schedule. Still, the study shows certain periods of time when individuals are more likely to achieve certain training goals. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
Exercise from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. or from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m
Researchers tracked the benefits of exercise in a group of 30 women and 26 men who exercised in the morning, specifically between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., or in the evening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
All participants were healthy, non-smokers and physically fit. Participants trained according to the PRISET exercise and fitness paradigm (protein stimulation intake combined with resistance function, interval sprinting, stretching, endurance exercise). All participants followed a healthy eating plan, and consumption was similar in the morning and evening groups.
The study authors measured a range of outcomes, including muscle strength, endurance and strength, body composition, systolic/diastolic blood pressure, respiratory exchange ratio and moods, and their food intake. All participants were healthy, active, slim, and weight stable individuals who may not be particularly representative of general population habits, demographics, or goals. In addition, they were middle-aged adults with no cardiovascular disease. Thus, these individuals would not be fully representative of the general population.
One of the unique aspects of the study is the exploration of the time of day that exercise based on mood is performed. This study shows for the first time that the time of day you exercise significantly changes the mood of women and men. In particular, women who exercise in the afternoon improve their overall mood compared to women who exercise in the morning.
The men studied showed a greater improvement in perceived mood status than the women. Exercise appeared to significantly reduce tension, depression, and anger in men regardless of the time of day, while improvements in tension and depression were only seen in women who exercised in the evenings.
All participants showed improvements in all areas after the 12-week study. However, the nature of these improvements varied. Women who exercised in the morning had greater reductions in total body fat and abdominal fat, reduced blood pressure, and increased lower body muscle strength. Women who exercised in the evenings saw greater improvements in muscle strength, mood and upper body satiety.
The effect was less pronounced in men. However, there were differences:
Men who exercised any time of the day improved their physical performance.
Men who exercised in the evenings saw benefits for their heart and metabolic health, as well as reduced fatigue.
Why this gender difference?
The study authors point out that a “direct comparison” between women and men was not the purpose of the study. However, several possible mechanisms explaining the differences between women and men in their response to exercise at different times of the day may include differences in neuromuscular function, capillary density, response to hunger, and lipid metabolism between women and men.”
These differences suggest that molecular, endocrine, metabolic, and neuromuscular factors likely contribute to these diurnal variations in health and exercise capacity between women and men.
The exact mechanism is unclear, but may be related to the neuro-hormonal-psychological effects of late-day exercise as a form of “de-stressing,” which may also have a beneficial effect on sleep quality. Interestingly, afternoon exercise in men also significantly reduced feelings of fatigue.
The study results suggest that when people develop exercise or fitness programs with their doctor, they should consider the time of day they exercise.
* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.
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