Exercise may be better for women in the morning if they want to burn fat, while men benefit more from working out at night.
A fitness session in the morning is better for women looking to reduce fat and lose inches on their bellies, a small study suggests.
They also see a greater reduction in blood pressure from exercising early in the day.
But men’s blood pressure, levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and their ability to burn fat all seem to benefit more from evening exercise.
Men may also feel less tired exercising before dinner, rather than before breakfast.
The results come from a study of 27 women and 20 men who worked out four times a week. Around half did so between 6am and 8am, while the rest did it between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.
The small study suggested women looking to reduce fat would benefit most by exercising in the morning (file photo)
Dr Paul Arciero, who led the study from Skidmore College in New York, said: ‘While both morning and evening exercise provide significant health and performance benefits for women, those looking to shed belly fat and lower their blood pressure should consider the morning.’
The study, involving relatively fit people aged 25 to 55, found women who exercised in the morning lost an average of 10 per cent of the fat around their middle. That compared to only 3 per cent of abdominal fat lost in women who exercised in the evening.
While the women did not lose weight overall, they lost abdominal fat, which can wrap around the body’s internal organs and be bad for health.
Female morning exercisers saw a greater reduction in blood pressure than those who exercised later. This is thought to have been caused by a reduction in the stiffness of their blood vessels, but may have been driven by the morning exercisers having slightly higher blood pressure to start with.
The consolation for night owls, who studies show struggle with exercise before work, is that women who exercised later had better upper body strength and power when asked to lift weights.Men demonstrated no difference in physical performance based on whether they exercised early or late in the day.
However they were significantly less tired when they exercised at night, had lower blood pressure, and appeared from analysis of their exhaled breath to burn more fat. While men who exercised at night were not found to have less body fat, the study authors suggest this could happen over a longer period.
Men’s blood pressure, levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol and their ability to burn fat all seem to benefit more from evening exercise, the study suggests (file photo)
All men and women studied were asked to do four exercise sessions a week for 12 weeks. These included one session of resistance training, a session of stretching such as yoga or pilates and a sprint training session, which meant doing an exercise like swimming or running on a treadmill for 35 minutes. Most sessions lasted an hour, although longer aerobic exercises such as cycling or rowing were included to test endurance.
The people in the study were all given a fixed diet for 12 weeks so food consumption would not influence the outcomes.
It is well known that exercise affects the sexes differently, particularly in regards to fat.
Women’s hormones and contrasting circadian rhythms may also play a role.
The study, which is published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found exercise generally benefited all those who took part in the research, regardless of when they did it.
The researchers suggest their findings show women should exercise in the morning to lose fat but in the evening if they want to improve muscle strength.