A new study has revealed that men and women get different benefits from exercise depending on the time of day they do it.
Led by Dr Paul Arciero, who is Professor for Health and Human Physiological Sciences Department at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, upstate New York, the study has been covered in a blog on Frontiers Science News, which has also published the full article here.
The randomised controlled trial found that Exercise Time of Day (ETOD) not only impacts how effective exercise is, but also that there are differences not only between the type of exercise undertaken and between men and women.
The trial was conducted on 30 men and 26 women aged between 25 and 55, all of them described as “healthy, highly active, nonsmokers, and with normal weight.”
They underwent a 12-week training programme led by coaches, with rest days on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and depending on the day of the week undertook 60 minutes of resistance, sprint interval, stretching or endurance training. They also followed a specially designed meal plan.
Beforehand, participants had been independently randomised to ensure they either trained for an hour in the morning (at some point between 0630-0830) or in the evening (1800-2000).
Prior to the trial beginning and once it had finished, the participants were assessed for their aerobic power, muscular endurance, flexibility, balance, upper and lower body strength and power, as well as their jumping ability.
Other than 16 per cent of participants who dropped out because they were unable to adhere to the nutrition plan or exercise programme, all of them showed an improvement in their overall health and performance, with no difference observed between those who exercised in the morning or evening.
However, the results also showed “that ETOD determines the strength of improvements in physical performance, body composition, cardiometabolic health, and mood,” according to Frontiers Science News.
“For example, all female participants reduced their total body fat, abdominal and hip fat, and blood pressure over the trial, but these improvements were greater in morning-exercising women,” it said.
“Only evening-exercising men showed a decrease in their ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, respiratory exchange ratio, and carbohydrate oxidation, as fat became the preferred fuel source.”
Dr Arciero said: “Here we show for the first time that for women, exercise during the morning reduces belly fat and blood pressure, whereas evening exercise in women increases upper body muscular strength, power, and endurance, and improves overall mood and nutritional satiety.
“We also show that for men, evening exercise lowers blood pressure, the risk of heart disease, and feelings of fatigue, and burns more fat, compared to morning exercise.
“Based on our findings, women interested in reducing belly fat and blood pressure, while at the same time increase leg muscle power should consider exercising in the morning.
“However, women interested in gaining upper body muscle strength, power and endurance, as well as improving overall mood state and food intake, evening exercise is the preferred choice,” said Arciero.
“Conversely, evening exercise is ideal for men interested in improving heart and metabolic health, as well as emotional wellbeing.”
Skidmore College associate professor Stephen J Ives, who collaborated on the study, added: “We have shown that ETOD should be an important consideration for anyone, women and men, given its effects on the strength of physiological outcomes of exercise. But regardless of ETOD, regular exercise is essential for our health.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.