According to a study published in the journal Obesity, exercising in the morning, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., may be beneficial for weight loss. The study analyzed two years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national health and nutrition examination survey, focusing on the exercise, eating, and lifestyle habits of more than 5,200 adults. The data revealed that individuals who engaged in moderate to vigorous exercise in the morning had lower body mass indexes compared to those who exercised at different times of the day.
The study’s lead researcher, Tongyu Ma, cautions that exercise timing is not the sole factor affecting weight loss. Other variables, such as the participants’ age and response to exercise, may contribute to the observed benefits. Additionally, morning exercisers in the study tended to be older, white, female, and college-educated, and they were more likely to exercise consistently.
While the study provides interesting findings, researchers emphasize that a clinical trial is necessary to establish the optimal time for exercise. Clinical trials would allow for a direct comparison between individuals with similar ages, lifestyles, and eating habits. However, several reasons support the argument for exercising in the morning.
Physiologically speaking, some studies suggest that morning exercise may be beneficial due to the body’s molecular clock. This clock prompts various bodily functions, including fat metabolism, at different times of the day. Exercising in the morning may help reset this clock and improve metabolic health.
Moreover, exercising before eating breakfast may lead to greater fat burning as the body is in a fasted state. The benefits of exercise can last for hours afterward, with the metabolic rate remaining elevated. However, prioritizing exercise in the morning should be accompanied by a healthy diet for weight loss and overall well-being.
Nevertheless, experts emphasize that the best time to exercise depends on an individual’s preference. Consistency is key, so selecting a time that aligns with personal preferences and schedules increases the likelihood of regular exercise. Ultimately, exercise should be part of a comprehensive lifestyle approach that includes healthy eating habits.
– Tongyu Ma et al. Obesity, 2021.
– Cameron Mitchell, assistant professor of kinesiology, The University of British Columbia.
– Ross Andersen, professor of exercise physiology, medicine, and nutrition, McGill University.
– NBC Health.