What is the best time of day to exercise? There is no right or wrong when choosing when; the best time is ultimately whatever time you can be consistent. But a new study shows there may be an optimal time for specific goals like fat burning or muscle strength and that those optimal times actually differ for men and women.
The study published in Frontiers of Physiology followed 30 men and 26 women – all active and healthy and between 25 and 55 years old. The groups were divided into men and women and then into AM and PM workouts that lasted 1 hour long.
The AM group worked out between 6 and 8:30 AM, and the PM group worked out between 6 and 8 PM. All groups followed a specific meal plan, and their workouts were four days a week, with each day focusing on resistance, sprint interval, stretching, or endurance training.
All of the participants improved their overall health and fitness during the 12-week course of exercise.
Women who exercised in the morning had more significant reductions in belly fat and lowered blood pressure. Suggesting that if fat loss is the goal, AM exercise is optimal.
Women who exercised at night had greater gains in upper body strength and endurance. The women’s PM workout group also had improvements in overall mood and reduced cravings. So for strength, women should choose evenings.
When it comes to strength, the time of day didn’t seem to matter for men. They improved their strength in the mornings and evenings.
But for better metabolic and heart health and greater fat loss, men benefited from evening workouts.
It is still unclear why these differences exist between men and women, although something physiological must be at play. When it comes to working out, any time of day is better than not at all – but if you are looking to achieve specific goals, this research can serve as a valuable guide for scheduling your next sweat session.
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