Exercise is useful regardless of the time of day, but a new control study has shown that the load can affect different parts of the body depending on the time of day.
For 12 weeks, 27 healthy and active women and 20 healthy and active men participated in an experiment involving a strict diet and training program. The weekly routine included four days of exercise: sprinting, weight training, stretching and endurance training, as well as three days of rest on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
Half of the group performed their hour-long daily exercises in the morning before breakfast, and the other half performed their usual exercises before dinner in the evening.
All participants eventually showed significant improvements in their fitness and health, but morning and evening exercises had different results, especially for women.
Female participants who exercised in the morning burned 7% more abdominal fat and lowered blood pressure by 7% more than women who exercised in the evening. The morning routine also resulted in more leg strength.
On the other hand, women who trained in the evening showed a greater increase in upper body strength, improved mood and increased cravings for food. Moreover, their muscle strength increased by 29%, and endurance — by 15% compared to those who exercised in the morning.
Compared to women, men were less affected by exercise time. However, the evening workout resulted in slightly lower blood pressure and increased fat oxidation compared to the morning workout. Evening workouts also reduced fatigue by 55%.
“Based on our findings, women interested in reducing belly fat and blood pressure while increasing leg muscle strength should consider exercising in the morning. Since evening exercise improves overall mood and food intake, it is preferable to exercise,” explains physiologist Paul Arciero from Skidmore College.
“On the contrary, evening exercises are ideal for men interested in improving heart health and metabolism, as well as emotional well—being,” he added.