- Researchers say exercising between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. is best for weight management.
- Morning exercisers had a lower body mass index and waist circumference than those exercising later.
- Experts say better sleep, mental health, brain health, and physiological health are also important benefits of exercise.
The early bird exercising in the morning is best at catching the weight management worm, according to a new study.
Researchers report that even though epidemiological evidence has been controversial over optimal timing of physical activity for weight management, their findings suggest that exercising between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. appears to be the best time of day to garner health benefits.
The researchers said that moving during those hours best enhances the association between daily moderate to vigorous physical activity and obesity prevention.
Details from the morning exercise study
The team analyzed 5,285 participants, looking at moderate to vigorous physical activity in the morning, midday, and evening with an established algorithm that identifies hidden patterns in unlabeled data sets.
Researchers said the results showed a strong linear association between moderate to vigorous physical activity and obesity prevention in the morning group, whereas a weaker connection was found in the midday and evening groups.
Participants meeting the physical activity guidelines in the morning cluster had a lower body mass index and waist circumference than those in the other clusters.
Self-reported dietary recall also showed morning participants had a healthier diet and less daily energy intake per unit of body weight compared with other clusters.
In addition, the study authors reported morning participants spent a significantly higher amount of time of sedentary behavior than the participants in the other clusters. Despite the longer duration of sedentary time, the lower body mass index and waist circumference outcomes in the morning group remained.
Exercising at any time is still beneficial
Experts say that the study was promising, but that exercise at any time of the day is still preferred over none at all.
The association of exercise early in the day and boosting the metabolism has previously been studied, but not as much as the effect on obesity.
There are many factors that will change the effectiveness of exercise, no matter what time it is done. Age, weight, sleep, and work cycle, etc., are all factors.
The important thing with exercise is consistency. The type of exercise does not seem to be as important as being able to consistently perform 150 minutes a week. We recommend getting 30 minutes per day of exercise, even walking, at least five days a week is a good goal.
Diet, other factors in weight management
It is important to note for people trying to lose weight, exercise is important, but weight loss is primarily affected by diet. Changing to a healthier diet is the most important factor in trying to lose weight.
It must be added that if morning exercise doesn’t work for some people, that doesn’t mean it can’t work later.
The recommendations of exercising at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity or greater do not specify time because there is not yet enough research to determine an optimal time to exercise for weight loss.
There are other benefits as well to exercising any time.
Even if an optimal time was determined for different populations, weight loss is only one of the many benefits derived from exercise. Better sleep, mental health, brain health, and physiological health are also important benefits of exercise, and time of day may be less important than actual exercise participation.
Pick a convenient time and an exercise you enjoy
When it comes to exercise, people should find an activity they enjoy.
What truly matters is finding a workout routine that suits your individual lifestyle and preferences. The most effective exercise regimen is the one you can consistently stick with.
Huffman added that although morning exercise helps establish a healthy routine and increasing mood and energy levels throughout the day, it’s important to know that evening or afternoon workouts can be equally effective for managing weight.
The crucial factor is prioritizing regular physical activity and combining it with a balanced diet to achieve your weight management goals. Ultimately, the ideal time to exercise is whenever it fits into your daily schedule and allows you to maintain a long-term commitment to your health and fitness journey.