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Weight Loss: What Time of Day is Exercise Best?

Posted Nov 25 2012 12:00am
Best time of day to exercise
This has been a hot topic for a very long time.  In fact, it’s quite possible that cavemen and cavewomen were debating this while sitting around the campfire chomping on Mastodon burgers. The question is:

What’s The Best Time Of Day To Work Out?

            Okay.  Fine.  Cave people had a few more important things to worry about like food, shelter, and getting eaten by Saber-Toothed Tigers.

            But, if you are trying to lose weight and get in shape TODAY, then the answer to this question may be VERY important to you.

            If you are like most people, you have very limited time.  So, you want to get the maximum results from exercise that you can in as little time and with least effort possible.

            The good news is that a few recently published research papers may have some answers...

            The first is a study published in the October issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

            This research out of Brigham Young University (BYU) shows that 45 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise in the morning actually reduces a person’s motivation for food.  This is contrary to the common belief that exercise STIMULATES appetite. 

            According to BYU: Professors, James LeCheminant and Michael Larson, measured the neural activity of 35 women while they viewed food images, both following a morning of exercise and a morning without exercise. They found their attentional response to the food pictures decreased after the brisk workout.

            “This study provides evidence that exercise not only affects energy output, but it also may affect how people respond to food cues,” LeCheminant said.  The report went on to say, “The 45-minute exercise bout not only produced lower brain responses to the food images, but also resulted in an increase in total physical activity that day, regardless of body mass index.”

            One thing of interest was that the women did not eat more food on exercise days than non-exercise days.  In other words, they did not eat more to make up for the calories burned from working out. 

            “The subject of food motivation and weight loss is so complex,” Larson said. “There are many things that influence eating, and exercise is just one element.”

What About Peak Performance?

            There are studies that show the AFTERNOON is the best time for peak performance.  One study published in Sports Medicine in 1995 revealed that, “Performance of physical activity is generally improved in the afternoon or evening, compared with morning.”

            Even more important are the results from a study published in Medical Science Sports Exercise in 1998 that found: “These results demonstrate that there is temporal specificity in training to increase work capacity in high-intensity exercise. Greater improvements can be expected to occur at the time of day at which high-intensity training is regularly performed.”

            In other words, training at the same time every day yields the best results in regards to performance.

            Here’s something to keep in mind…  The last two studies mentioned concern performance (strength, speed, etc.)  The first study done at BYU is about appetite and potential weight loss. Once again, science does not give us the clear-cut answer we are looking for.

So, What’s The Bottom Line?

            Make an exercise plan and exercise regularly.  That is the number one priority.  Clearly, any workout is better than none.  But, TRY to workout at the same time every day.

            These studies used small sample sizes and it is very possible that not everyone fits into these results.  For example, some people are morning people.  They jump out of bed at 5:30 every day cheering.  For others, that is torture.

            So, is it possible that these two types of people have different peak performance times?  One early and the other later?  Yes, it is. Once again, try it out for yourself.  Just be consistent and give it a valid shot.  Don’t try something for a week or two and think it did not work. Exercise, weight loss, and athletic performance simply do not work like that.  Neither does health. 

            All of these things take consistency.  You must do the right things… long enough…  and “long enough” is for the rest of your life.

            Sometimes reality can be a little harsh, but the alternative is much worse. 

Courtesy of: Altadonna Communications 

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