UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Orthopedics

Title: What time of day is best for exercise to achieve weight loss goals?

Keywords: diabetes, exercise, weight loss (PubMed Search)

Posted: 2/13/2021 by Brian Corwell, MD (Updated: 2/28/2021)
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What time of day is best for exercise to achieve weight loss goals?

 

Working out in the morning has traditionally held the edge, especially if done on an empty stomach.

Upon walking, elevated levels of cortisol and GH will aid in fat metabolism.

Switching to a morning workout may also decrease appetite throughout the day.

Morning exercise may also induce significant circadian phase?shifting effects. Patients report feeling more alert in the morning and get more tired at night. This may “force” people to get increased rest as poor sleep quality and duration has been associated with weight gain. 

Moderate intensity aerobic exercise has been shown to cause immediate mood improvement and mental productivity. These effects can last up to 12 hours and may be a simple aid to combat job stress.

However, a recent small study looked at this question with a group of men at high risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Those that exercised in the morning had better blood sugar control and lost more abdominal fat than those who exercised in the morning.

Study:  32 adult males (58 ± 7 years) at risk for or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes performed 12 weeks of supervised exercise training either:

In the morning (8.00–10.00 a.m., N = 12) OR

In the afternoon (3.00–6.00 p.m., N = 20)

Test: Graded cycling test with ECG monitoring until exhaustion

Results:  Compared to those who trained in the morning, participants who trained in the afternoon experienced superior beneficial effects of exercise training on peripheral insulin sensitivity, insulin?mediated suppression of adipose tissue lipolysis, fasting plasma glucose levels, exercise performance and fat mass.

Conclusion:  Metabolically compromised patients may benefit from shifting their exercise routine to the afternoon from the morning. Ultimately, any exercise is great in this population, but this study may be worth sharing to your patients.

 

References

Mancilla R, Brouwers B, Schrauwen-Hinderling VB, Hesselink MKC, Hoeks J, Schrauwen P. Exercise training elicits superior metabolic effects when performed in the afternoon compared to morning in metabolically compromised humans. Physiol Rep. 2021 Jan;8(24):e14669.