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Best Time to Exercise

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What Is The Best Time To Exercise?

By Dr. Doug

I am asked this question from time-to-time. The quick answer is, “exercise when you can.” But are there better health responses from exercising early in the day vs later? This is where the research gives differing answers.

Basically, it depends on what you want to achieve. Our bodies are affected by circadian rhythms, or an “internal clock.” This regulates when we feel hungry, sleepy, alert, etc. It also regulates our blood sugars, heart rates and hormone levels.

Some research shows that people who were more at risk of type 2 diabetes had better insulin sensitivity if they exercised later in the day. This matches well with basic research on insulin sensitivity that shows it is most responsive early in the day and less so as the day wears on. Exercise helps to stimulate insulin sensitivity later in the day.

On the other hand, exercise early in the day seems to affect the fat levels in our blood and therefore throughout our bodies. Studies both in mice and humans show exercise early in the day relies more on the fat that circulates in our bloodstreams to produce energy. By reducing the fat in the blood, we eventually replace that fat with stored fat in the body. Therefore, for weight loss it is better to exercise earlier.

In deciding when to exercise, think about what are the health benefits you want to achieve. That is what may inform your decision about what the best time for you to exercise.

But in the end, exercise is a key component to your health and longevity, so find a time that you can exercise regularly and you will be your happiest and healthiest.

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