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Combining a balanced diet with regular exercise has long been the preferred formula for maintaining overall health, with the added benefit that you could potentially shed those few niggling extra pounds in the process.
But just what constitutes optimal exercise and nutrition still remains the subject of numerous scientific studies.
And one such piece of research looking into the former was published in The International Journal of Obesity.
Erik Willis, a data analyst with the Centre for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and colleagues at the University of Kansas, the University of Colorado Denver as well as other institutions have overseen the Midwest Exercise Trial 2, an extensive examination of the influence that regular, supervised exercise has on body weight.
In a secondary analysis of the study – which saw around 100 overweight, previously inactive young men and women work out five times a week for 10 months at a physiology lab, jogging/sweating until they had burned either 400 or 600 calories per session – they examined the relationship between exercise timing and weight loss.
Groups were categorised based on the time of day they exercised with the Early Ex Group completing their sessions between 7am and 11.59am, the Late Ex Group completing sessions between 3pm and 7pm and the Sporadic-Ex Group completing sessions anytime between 7am and 7pm.
Body weight, energy intake and non-exercise physical activity were assessed at baseline at 3.5, 7, and 10 months.
And by month 10 researchers concluded those who exercised before noon had lost more weight when compared to the group who exercised after 3pm.
Although it was noted that the Early Ex Group was more active during the day, taking more total steps when compared to those who worked out later, and also consumed slightly less calories, overall these differences weren’t such that they were deemed to be significant.
Commenting, Willis said, “Based on this data, I would say that the timing of exercise might – just might – play a role”
But he went on to stress, “I would not want anyone to think that it’s not worth exercising if you can’t do it first thing in the morning,” he says. “Any exercise, at any time of day, is going to be better than none.”