A randomized controlled trial confirms that time of day exercise (ETOD) influences the effectiveness of exercise, and also shows that these effects differ between types of exercise and between men and women.
The results of the study show that exercise in the morning lowers blood pressure and belly fat for women, while exercise in the evening increases upper body strength, muscle strength and endurance and improves dietary satiety and overall mood.
The results also show that evening training for men reduces feelings of fatigue, cardiovascular disease and blood pressure, as well as burns more fat, compared to morning training.
The researchers recruited healthy, non-smoking and highly active men (26) and women (30) of normal weight between the ages of 25 and 55 to participate in the study. They followed the RISE program previously developed by the researchers for 12 weeks, with training from fitness coaches. The participants performed either an hour of resistance, sprint interval, stretching or endurance training, depending on the day of the week with 3 rest days. They adhered to a specially developed meal plan with a daily protein intake of 1.1 to 1.8 g/kg body weight.
Male and female subjects were independently pre-randomized to one of 2 routines: exercising only for 60 minutes in the morning between 06:30 and 08:30, or 60 minutes in the evening between 18:00 and 20:00. were assigned to morning exercise had breakfast after exercise and consumed 3 additional meals at 4 hour intervals. Subjects assigned to evening training consumed 3 meals at 4-hour intervals prior to training, in addition to another meal after training.
At the beginning and end of the study, individuals were thoroughly evaluated for their upper and lower body strength and power, muscular endurance, flexibility, aerobic power, jumping ability, and balance. Only 16% of the 56 people enrolled dropped out during the 12 weeks of the study purely because they couldn’t stick to the exercise and nutrition schedule.
Apart from the participants’ physical and metabolic parameter changes, including respiratory exchange rate, arterial stiffness, blood pressure, and the percentage and body distribution of fat across the study, changes were also measured in relevant blood biomarkers, such as total and HDL cholesterol, insulin, IL-6 and C-reactive protein. Questionnaires were also administered to the individuals to quantify feelings of food satiety and mood swings.
The researchers found that all individuals improved in performance and overall health during the study, regardless of whether they were assigned to morning or evening exercise. The results showed how both morning and evening RISE exercise improved mood and cardiometabolic health, as well as physical performance in women and men.
The results also show that ETOD determines the improvement strength in cardiometabolic health, body composition, physical performance and mood.
As an example, all female individuals reduced their blood pressure, hip and abdominal fat, and total body fat during the study, but these improvements were more significant in women who exercised in the morning. Only men who exercised in the evening experienced a reduction in their respiratory exchange rate, blood pressure, the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol and carbohydrate oxidation, as fat became the preferred fuel source.
According to the results, women who want to lower blood pressure and abdominal fat while increasing leg muscle strength should consider morning exercise. Exercising in the evening is the best choice for women who want to gain upper body muscle, improve endurance and strength, as well as improve food intake and overall mood.
On the other hand, evening exercise is perfect for men who want to improve their metabolism and heart health in addition to their emotional well-being.
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