Men, women may have different optimal times of the day for exercise

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The time of day when people choose to exercise could have different effects. David Trood / Getty Images
  • A new study finds there are optimal times of day for achieving specific goals with exercise.
  • Research shows that for women, in particular, exercise in the morning or in the evening produces different results.
  • The study also includes the effect of exercise times on an individual’s mood.

Not everyone trains for the same reason. For some, exercise is a means of dealing with a health problem such as hypertension. Some train to increase strength in one part of the body or another and others to improve their mood.

A new study suggests the time of day a person exercises may produce different results. Furthermore, these results are not the same for women and men.

Professor Paul J. Arciero, lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of Human Health and Physiological Sciences at Skidmore College in New York, says BBC news that the best time for exercise is when people can include it in their schedules.

However, the study reveals certain time periods when individuals are more likely to achieve specific exercise goals.

Dr. Asad R. Siddiqi, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, who was not involved in the study, said Medical news today:

“I appreciated the authors’ stated aim to add to our understanding of the effects of training on female athletes and how this can differ from male athletes.

“Women are notoriously underrepresented in the medical literature and even speculating that there may be a difference between how different biological sexes respond to exercise indicates a level of thoughtfulness and nuance that has long been lacking in scientific investigation.”
– Dr. Asad R. Siddiqi

The study was published in frontiers in Physiology.

Researchers monitored the benefits of exercise in a group of 30 women and 26 men who were assigned exercise in the morning, specifically between 6:00 and 8:00, or in the evening from 18:30 to 18:00. 20:30.

All participants were healthy, non-smoking, and athletically trained individuals.

Participants trained according to the AWARD (intake of protein stimulation combined with functional resistance, interval sprinting, stretching, resistance exercise) exercise and fitness paradigm developed by Dr. Arciero.

All participants followed a designed healthy meal plan, and intake was similar in the morning and evening groups.

The study authors measured a range of results, including muscle strength, endurance and power, body composition, systolic / diastolic blood pressure, respiratory exchange ratio, and mood states, as well as dietary intake.

Dr Siddiqi cautioned that the participants “were all healthy, active, lean and weight-stable individuals, which may not particularly reflect the habits, demographics or goals of the wider population.”

He noted, in particular, that these were middle-aged adults with no cardiovascular disease. Therefore, this would not be representative of the general population.

One of the unique aspects of the study is its exploration of the time of day of the mood exercise.

“[F]or the first time, we show that the time of day of the exercise significantly alters the mood state in women and men, “said Dr. Arciero MNT.

“In particular, women who practice the [p.m.] significantly improves the general mood compared to those who train in the morning. “
– Prof. Paul J. Arciero

Dr. Siddiqi also pointed out another interesting finding:

“The men studied had a greater improvement in perceived mood than the women. Exercise appeared to decrease tension, depression, anger, substantially in men, regardless of the time of day, while improvements in tension and depression were only seen in women who exercised at night. “

He added that studying mood is inherently more difficult due to his reliance on self-reporting.

All participants showed improvements in all areas after the 12-week trial. However, the nature of the improvements varied.

  • Women who exercised in the morning reduced more total fat and abdominal fat, lowered blood pressure to a greater extent, and increased lower-body muscle power.
  • Women who exercised in the evening saw greater improvement in muscle strength, mood, and upper body satiety.

The effect was less pronounced in men. However, there were differences:

  • Men who trained at both times of the day improved their physical performance.
  • Men who exercised in the evening saw heart and metabolic health benefits, as well as less fatigue.

Dr. Arciero noted that “a direct confrontation” between women and men was not the goal of the study.

“However,” he said, “they may include several potential mechanisms for differences between women and men in their response to exercise at different times of the day; changes in neuromuscular function, capillary density, responses to hunger, and fat metabolism between women and men “.

“[These differences] suggest that molecular, endocrine, metabolic and neuromuscular factors likely contribute to these diurnal variations in health and physical performance outcomes between women and men. “
– Prof. Paul J. Arciero

“The precise mechanism,” continued Dr. Arciero, “is not clear, but it could be related to the neuro-hormonal-psychological effects of physical exercise later in the day as a form of ‘stress reliever’ which can also favorably affect quality. sleep. Interestingly [p.m.] exercise in men also significantly reduced feelings of fatigue.

The study results suggest that people consider the time of day they will exercise as they develop exercise or fitness programs with their doctors, Dr. Arciero added.