By Jim Leffman
If you want to lose weight, early morning is the best time for a workout, a new study reveals.
From hitting the gym to a brisk walk, moderate to vigorous exercise between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. is the optimal time to shed pounds.
A team from the Franklin Pierce University, New Hampshire discovered that the strongest association between weight loss and exercise came in the early morning compared to midday or evening.
Those who exercised early had a lower BMI and waist circumference despite being the most sedentary of the three groups.
Professor Rebecca Krukowski said: “This is exciting new research that is consistent with a common tip for meeting exercise goals – that is, schedule exercise in the morning before emails, phone calls or meetings that might distract you.”
Dr. Tongyu Ma, assistant professor at the University’s Health Sciences Department added: “Our findings propose that the diurnal pattern of moderate to vigorous physical activity could be another important dimension to describe the complexity of human movement.
“Our study provided a novel tool to explore the diurnal pattern of physical activity and to investigate its impact on health outcomes.”
Previous research has focused on the frequency, intensity and duration of physical activity.
Few studies have investigated whether the time of day has any bearing on the result of the exercise.
It was also unclear whether meeting the physical activity guidelines of 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activity is equally beneficial for reducing obesity at any time of day.
The team looked at 5,285 people using data from the 2003–2004 and 2005–2006 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For the study, published in the journal Obesity, the daytime pattern of activity was classified into three categories for analysis: morning, mid-day and evening.
Participants who met 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 indicated that participants in the morning cluster had a healthier diet and less daily energy intake per unit of body weight compared with other clusters.
Strangely the morning cluster also spent a significantly higher amount of time on sedentary behaviour 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 persisted.
Overall, participants in the morning cluster were 10-to-13 years older than the two other groups.
The morning cluster also had the highest percentage of female participants among the three groups.
The majority of participants in the morning group were primarily non-Hispanic white, had a college or higher education, and had never used tobacco or alcohol.
Krukowski added: “It is not known whether people who exercise consistently in the morning may be systematically different from those who exercise at other times, in ways that were not measured in this study.
“For example, people who exercise regularly in the morning could have more predictable schedules, such as being less likely to be shift workers or less likely to have caregiving responsibilities that impede morning exercise.
“Predictable schedules could have other advantageous effects on weight that were not measured in this study, such as with sleep length and quality and stress levels.
“In addition, the ‘morning larks’ who consistently rise early enough for morning exercise may be biologically different from their ‘night owl’ counterparts.”
Krukowski, co-director of the Community-Based Health Equity Center, University of Virginia, School of Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, was not associated with the research.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker