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When is the Best Time of the Day to Exercise?

Dr Mohamed Ghaith Al Kuwari – Public Health Consultant / Director of HLP - ASPETAR

In an increasingly busy world, one of the main reasons why people find it difficult to regularly exercise is due to lack of time. The best time to exercise varies from person to person and depends on convenience, obligations and schedules. People should continue to aim to exercise regularly, maintain healthy eating habits and very active lifestyles to remain at their optimum health at all times.

Today, research focuses on exercise and determining the best time of the day to exercise, as there is an ongoing debate whether it is in the morning, afternoon or evening. Studies show that the optimal time for performance is with late afternoon exercises, around 4pm, as people’s body temperature is at its highest then. Strength or anaerobic performance, such as weight lifting, improves by 5% in the late afternoon. Meanwhile aerobic capacity, in activities such as running or cycling is approximately 5% higher in the afternoon. For people looking to avoid injuries while exercising, it is recommended that they do so in the afternoon as muscles are warm, flexible and strong during this time.  

However, while afternoon exercise might be ideal from a physiological point of view, research shows that individuals who exercise in the morning are more committed to doing so. Exercising in the morning then is a great option for busy people, and is also a fantastic way to kick start the day, enhance one’s mood and increase energy levels. Studies also show that afternoon exercise has a similar effect on people as it is used as a stress reliever for those working long hours.    

There is also a direct correlation between exercise and sleep as research suggests that regular exercise in the morning can improve sleep quality. Researchers have determined that morning exercise can improve deep sleep, whereas, exercising in the evening may interfere with sleep and can keep individuals awake and alert throughout the night. Some studies have explored the link between exercise and blood pressure, with the findings suggesting that morning exercise is associated with a 10% reduction in blood pressure during the day.  

It is important to make time for exercise, with Qatar’s physical activity guidelines recommending that individuals spend at least 150 minutes, or 2 hours and 30 minutes exercising per week. They highlight moderate-intensity exercises such as brisk walking, swimming or jogging, and the physical benefits that they bring. The guidelines also include  75 minutes, 1 hour and 15 minutes, per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity such as running or playing football. Another example for those with very limited time to exercise, is to break up a 30 minute session into 3 sessions of 10 minutes throughout the day. All people should make exercising a priority at a time of the day that is convenient for them in order to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.

© 2014 Step Into Health Magazine

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