A new US study, published in Frontiers in Physiology, has found that the benefits of exercising at different times of day differs between men and women.
The research from Skidmore College in New York state looked at 30 men and 26 women, who were all active, healthy and aged between 25-55, over a 12-week period.
One group exercised for an hour before 08:30 while the other group exercised in the evening, between 18:00 and 20:00. All participants followed a specially-designed meal plan.
During the course of the study participants had their blood pressure and body fat tested, as well as their strength, flexibility and aerobic power, with results compared before and after.
Over the course of the study, all participants improved their overall health and exercise performance. However, the results found that early morning exercise was most beneficial for women when it came to reducing abdominal fat and blood pressure, while evening exercise was more advantageous for women when it came to improving their mood, food intake and upper-body strength.
Men, on the other hand, were able to improve their upper-body strength as effectively whether they exercised in the morning or evening. Evening exercise, however, showed greater results in men for improved heart and metabolic health – reducing the risk of conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Evening exercise also had more benefit to men when it came to improving their emotional wellbeing.
The study authors says it’s unclear why women and men responded differently, however, the factors that differentiate the sexes are likely to be hormonal, biological clocks and sleep-wake cycles. They also say that women may be more sensitive to early morning exercise due to the fact women are more likely to have excessive body fat.
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