Best Time to Exercise? Study Determines Afternoons are Better

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A new research study[1] shows that it is better for our bodies to work out at specific times of the day. Exercise training brings out higher metabolic effects in the afternoon instead of in the morning in metabolically compromised humans. It is because the circadian clock and metabolism are tightly associated. Therefore, the exact timing of interventions that target metabolic changes may influence their efficiency.

What is the best time to exercise?
What’s the best time to exercise? Your yoga class might be more effective if you can attend in the afternoon.

What was the Goal of the Research Study?

Previous experiments imply that every tissue in our bodies holds a kind of cellular clock that signals in response to biological messages related to our daily exposure to light, food, and sleep. Adjusted by our lifestyles, these clocks generate multiple circadian rhythms inside of us that induce our bodies’ hormone levels, temperatures, blood pressure, blood sugar, muscular energy, and other biological systems to plunge or heighten during the day.

But the research concentrated on bed and meal time only and not on the time of exercise, making it hard to obtain circadian effects of workouts. Some propose that morning workouts increase fat burning and weight loss. But the experiment was conducted only on healthy volunteers without metabolic problems. The result of past experiments, therefore, has not always been acknowledged.

Exercise in the morning
It’s good to exercise, but can you optimize the impact by exercising at a certain time? This study seems to indicate the answer is yes.

What were the Research Methods of the Study?

Patrick Schrauwen, a Nutrition and Movement Sciences professor at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and his colleagues had been analyzing moderate exercise in people with Type 2 diabetes. Noticing the different results of the intense workouts, he questioned if the timing of moderate workouts might influence how workouts transformed people’s metabolisms.

So, they requested 32 volunteers (all adult men) at high risk for Type 2 diabetes to combine aerobic and resistance exercises with three sessions per week for 12 weeks. Twelve volunteers executed all their exercise training sessions between 8:00 am and 10:00 am (morning group) while the rest of the volunteers did their exercise between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm (afternoon group). Other factors like ethical approval, hyperinsulinemic‐euglycemic clamp, and blood sample analysis were also considered in this research.

What were the Results and Conclusions of the Findings?

At the end of 12 weeks, the volunteers who exercised in the afternoon demonstrated better average insulin sensitivity than the morning group which results in a higher ability to regulate blood sugar. Though everyone’s exercise routines had been identical, the afternoon group dropped more fat around their waist than the morning group.

Researchers concluded that in people who are metabolically compromised or have type 2 diabetes, exercise training in the afternoon leads to more definite exercise‐induced metabolic conditioning than training in the morning. Afternoon exercise brought about more intense advantages in increasing exercise capacity and lowering body fat content.

Exercise time
Get the maximum benefit of your exercise by working out in the afternoon.

Recommendations for Fitness Trainees Based on the Research

If that is so, exercise training sessions should be done in the afternoon, preferably between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm rather than in the morning, if you striving to enhance glucose homeostasis. Exercising has overall benefits to our bodies, but doing it at the right time can make it more efficient and beneficial, especially if you have a disrupted metabolism.


1. “Exercise training elicits superior metabolic effects when performed in the afternoon compared to morning in metabolically compromised humans”