When it comes to exercise, are you a morning person or more of a night owl? And does it really matter?
You’d be forgiven for thinking that, as long as you get the job done, it doesn’t matter when you do it.
While exercising at any time of the day is good for you, a new study has found that there are optimum times for your workout.
They’re different for men and women – and depend on whether your goal is to build muscle, or burn fat.
According to the BBC, the US study monitored 30 men and 26 women, all who were active, healthy, and between 25 and 55 years old.
Participants were studied for 12 weeks as they took part in a diverse fitness programme, including resistance, endurance, stretching and sprinting. for 12 weeks.
The cohort was split into two groups, both exercising at different times of the day: one did their hour of exercise before 8.30am, while the other did the same routine but between the hours of 6-8pm.
They all followed a specially designed meal plan.
Over the course of the three month study, participants had their blood pressure and body fat monitored.
Researchers also tested their flexibility, strength and aerobic power at the beginning of the experiment, and then again at the end.
To be clear, everyone who took part improved their health and fitness.
However, there were some benefits associated with exercising first thing, and when it came to burning belly fat and reducing blood pressure, morning was found to be best. This was true especially for women.
That said, the findings suggested that if the goal is build muscle, evening work outs are better in general. These are also said to help improve mood and wellbeing.
The time of day men exercised appeared to have less of an impact on them.
The study’s lead author Dr Paul Arcerio, professor of health and human physiological sciences at Skidmore College, told the BBC that people ‘have more opportunity to benefit’ from exercising early.
However, he added: ‘The best time for exercise is the best time you can do it and fit it into your schedule.’
To sum up, if you’re a woman looking to burn fat and lower your blood pressure, try and squeeze your workouts in first thing.
If you’re looking to build muscle, a later workout might be best for you.
If you’re a man, you can please yourself and go with what feels best to you and your natural body clock.
Either way, don’t read too much into it and enjoy your workout at the time that suits your lifestyle best.
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