Exercising at any time of the day is great for your health and reduces the risk of various diseases. I always say that the best time to do physical activity is the one when you can always be present in training.
However, we know that training in the morning, in addition to generating several benefits, facilitates routine and discipline. By doing exercises early in the morning, we start the day willingly, we meet our goal first thing in the morning (not leaving it for later, when commitments usually get in the way of training) and, if by chance we don’t manage to train when we wake up, we still have the rest of the day to perform our exercise.
Knowing this, a study published this year by European Journal of Preventive Cardiology showed that when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease (such as heart attack) and stroke (stroke), training in the morning can be even more beneficial compared to other times of the day.
* Reinforcement that training at any time is good for preventing cardiovascular problems.
The study evaluated 86,657 adults aged 42 to 78 years, none of whom had heart disease at baseline. Participants wore physical activity trackers for seven days straight, and researchers monitored hospitalization or death related to stroke or coronary artery disease (CAD).
During the six- to eight-year follow-up, the researchers recorded that 2,911 participants developed CAD and 796 had a stroke. They also found that participants who were most active between 8 am and 11 am had the lowest risks of heart disease and stroke, compared to people with other peak activity times — afternoon or night.
After adjusting for factors such as age and gender, they found that participants who were most active early and late in the morning:
- had 11% and 16% lower risks of CAD incidence, compared to the other group;
- had 17% lower risk of stroke, compared to the group that performed exercises at other times;
- women who were more active early or late in the morning had 22% and 24% lower risk of heart disease;
- women who were most active in the late morning had a reduction of 35% in the risk of stroke.
The study’s findings were consistent regardless of how much daily activity participants did in the total day and whether they identified as a “morning” or “evening” person according to their chronotype.
But why is morning exercise better?
While more studies are needed to better understand how morning activity can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, the researchers hypothesize that it has to do with body clocks and circadian rhythms, as people who tend to exercise in the evening may eating more and later, sleeping later and less, which affects overall health.
Physical activity and food intake help to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm. In this way, behavioral aspects of our lives, such as training in the morning or performing sleep hygiene, can contribute to our biological clock.
Don’t change your training schedule!
If you are used to training in the afternoon or evening and these times fit well into your routine, there is no need to change the time of day you exercise. The most important thing is that physical exercise is part of your everyday life, and in a pleasurable way.
Whatever your training schedule, make it a goal to be physically active whenever you can and stick to a routine that works best for your schedule.
Now, if you have the opportunity to at least stay active in the morning (walk to work, get off a bus stop earlier, walk the dog in the street), it would be a big step. Another idea is to start your day with a walk—to walk your dog, for example.
Albalak G, Stijntjes M, Bodegom DV, Jukema JW, Atsma DE, Heemst DV, Noordam R. Setting your clock: associations between timing of objective physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk in the general population, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology2022;, zwac239, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurjpc/zwac239
CDC. Benefits of Physical Activity. Disponível em: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
Mayo Clinic. Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity. Disponível em: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389