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Continued From Last Post
Since a broken internal clock can wreak havoc on your health,
researchers became interested in how one might repair it. Exercise
seemed a viable possibility.
They designed a study comparing the circadian rhythm effects of
exercising at various times of day, using two groups of mice: one healthy
group, and one group with biologically induced circadian disruptions. He
found that all of the mice showed positive benefits from exercising,
regardless of what time of day they exercised (for mice, exercising meant
running on a wheel). But the benefits were much higher for the mice whose
internal clocks were impaired in the first place.
For those discombobulated mice, after several weeks of running, their
internal clocks were much more robust, particularly among the mice that
exercised in the afternoon. This finding was a real surprise to researchers
who expected to see the highest benefit from morning exercise, which tends to
be favored by athletes. Mice exercising in the late evening showed the least
benefit, some developing even more circadian disruptions, including poor
sleep (which was not a surprise).
Exercising in the Morning Versus Afternoon:
Good Arguments on Both Sides
It is interesting that this study favors afternoon exercise over morning
exercise, at least when it comes to circadian rhythms. There is a good deal
of evidence to the contrary — that exercising first thing in the morning is
preferable in several ways. Many, including me, prefer exercising in the
morning for a couple of reasons. First, it gets the task done early in the
day, before time pressures invariably tend to interfere with your best
Secondly, there is strong evidence that exercising in a fasting state,
which is easiest to do before breakfast, offers the highest metabolic
benefits. A 2010 study in the Journal of Physiology5 showed that exercising
in a fasting state improved insulin sensitivity, which has great implications
for weight loss/fat loss and prevention of type 2 diabetes. The metabolic
benefits of exercising are, of course, some of the strongest motivators for
getting people to the gym.
Could it be that exercise has different types of benefits, depending on
the time of day it’s performed?
From a circadian point of view, it makes sense to see higher benefits
from afternoon exercise. Circadian rhythms control your body temperature,
which has an impact on your workout. Your body temperature tends to be a
degree or two warmer in the afternoon than in the morning, resulting in
better muscle performance and decreased risk of injury. You are also
generally more alert in the afternoon. Plus, if you tend to hit that wall
around 1:00 or 2:00pm, going to the gym might be a good way to get over it.
However, on the other hand, the argument Ori Hofmekler makes strongly
favors pre-breakfast workouts. Ori is a fitness expert and author of several
books, including The Warrior Diet. He is a huge proponent of the combination
of calorie restriction with exercise as the best way to optimize our health.
In a nutshell,
Ori explains that your body has a preservative mechanismthat protects your
active muscle from wasting itself. So, if you exercisewithout fuel in your
system (i.e., before breakfast), you’ll tend to breakdown tissues other than
your active muscle, which is what you want. In otherwords, your body
spares the active muscle during exertion.
Instead, your body burns up the worn out tissues for fuel. It digests and
recycles damaged proteins, tumors, sick cells, etc., into the amino acid
building blocks for new and stronger muscle tissue. Not only is the timing of
your exercise important, but what you eat after exercise is also important if
you want to maximize your benefits.
The Bottom Line... Listen to Your Body to Decide
Even though there are discrepancies in the scientific literature about
the best time of day to work out, most experts will agree that the best time
for YOU to exercise is when you will do it consistently! One thing is
certain: any exercise is better than none, regardless of when you do it.
If you enjoy exercising in the morning and have successfully organized
your schedule around it, then don’t change it. The most important thing is to
choose a time of day you can stick with, so that exercise becomes a habit. I
would generally discourage exercising in the evening, IF you have an
alternative, especially if you struggle with your sleep. Exercise raises your
heart rate and body temperature, which are not conducive to sleeping.
The researcher of the featured study, Dr. Colwell,
admits it’s too earlyto conclude that afternoon exercise is more beneficial to
circadian rhythmsin humans, since his study involved mice. But it’s possible
afternoon sessions may produce stronger benefits for your internal clock.
It seems to me that, until new research answers the remaining unanswered
questions, you can do some experimentation on your own. Perhaps try a month
of exercising in the morning, followed by a month of exercising in the
afternoon, as your schedule allows. Maybe you can exercise on your lunch hour
— you might even convince a couple of friends to join you. Then see how you
feel, and let your body be your guide.
Thank You Dr. Mercola
God Bless Everyone & God Bless The United States of America.
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