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[REVEALED] The BEST Time of Day to Exercise for Optimal Health

If you’re carrying a few extra pounds, you’ve probably heard the same old advice a million times:

“Just move more, it doesn’t matter when!”

But what if the timing of your sweat sessions could make a big difference in how long and how well you live?

Well, a groundbreaking new study published in Diabetes Care suggests that for folks with obesity, hitting the pavement (or the gym) at a certain time of day could be the key to slashing your risk of early death and chronic diseases.

Researchers from the University of Sydney and other top-notch institutions took a deep dive into data from nearly 30,000 participants in the UK Biobank study. They wanted to see how the clock affected the health perks of moderate-to-vigorous activity (think brisk walking, biking, or anything that gets your heart pumping) over an 8-year period.

The focus was on individuals with a BMI over 30, aka those in the “obese” category. Why? Because carrying excess weight, especially when it leads to Type 2 diabetes, can throw your body’s natural rhythms out of whack. The researchers wondered if strategically timing your workouts could help counter some of these metabolic mismatches.

So, they divided the participants into four groups based on their typical exercise habits:

  • The “couch potatoes” (less than 1 bout of 3+ minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day)
  • The early birds (getting their sweat on between 6 a.m. and noon)
  • The afternoon athletes (hitting it hard between noon and 6 p.m.)
  • The night owls (breaking a sweat between 6 p.m. and midnight)

Over the next 8 years, the researchers kept tabs on who passed away (from any cause), and who developed cardiovascular problems (like heart attacks and strokes) or microvascular issues (think kidney disease, nerve damage, and vision problems – all common in people with diabetes).

The results were crystal clear: the evening exercisers came out on top across the board. Compared to the sedentary folks, the PM fitness fans had a jaw-dropping:

  • 61 percent lower risk of death from any cause
  • 36 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease
  • 24 percent lower risk of microvascular disease

Sure, the morning and afternoon movers also saw health benefits compared to the couch crew, but the effects were nowhere near as dramatic as the evening group. We’re talking a 33 percent and 40 percent lower risk of death for the a.m. and p.m. exercisers, respectively—nothing to sneeze at, but not quite the 61 percent drop the night owls enjoyed.

The same pattern played out for cardiovascular disease – morning activity was linked to a 17 percent risk reduction, afternoon a 16 percent reduction, but evening? A 36 percent lower risk.

And when the researchers zeroed in on the 3,000 or so participants who also had Type 2 diabetes, the nighttime advantage was even more pronounced.

So, what’s the magic behind an evening workout?

The researchers have a few theories:

Our bodies are primed to handle blood sugar better later in the day. Obesity and diabetes can exaggerate these natural fluctuations, so adding activity when insulin resistance peaks may pack a stronger punch.

Blood sugar tends to creep up the most in the evening, especially for people with diabetes. Exercise helps shuttle that excess glucose out of the bloodstream and into the muscles, so tackling high sugar at this critical juncture may stave off more damage over time.

And squeezing in some steps later in the day might lower blood pressure throughout the night and into the next morning—aa key factor in preventing heart disease and stroke.

Now, the researchers are quick to point out that these findings are still preliminary—we need more rigorous trials to nail down the evening exercise advantage. But if you’re looking for a simple, no-cost way to maximize the health perks of your workout, shifting some of your activity later in the day might be worth a shot.

That said, ANY movement, no matter when it happens, is better than being a couch potato. So if early bird or lunchtime sessions are the only way to make it happen, don’t sweat the timing—just focus on staying consistent.

But if you do have the flexibility to fit in an after-dinner stroll or an evening dance party in your living room? Science says you just might live longer and healthier because of it.

To living longer,

Rachel Mace
Managing Editorial Director, e-Alert
with contributions from the research team

P.S. One exercise = better sleep?! Find out here.


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