Your optimum time to exercise, based on your gender
The circadian rhythm has our internal processes clocked and genderised to a T. Here’s how to get in touch with it!
It’s not just that women are from Venus, and men from Mars – in a study recently published by Frontiers in Physiology, women and men may have different optimum times of the day to exercise too.
This study monitored 30 women and 26 men between the ages of 25 to 55 years old. All the participants were active and exercise-trained. The group was split into morning and evening exercise timings, and various physical readings were taken after 12 weeks.
Some of the most significant findings was that morning exercise for women burned more abdominal fat and lowered blood pressure, while evening exercise improved muscular performance. Men, on the other hand, burned more fat and saw reduced blood pressure from evening exercise.
Based on these findings, here are some suggestions on the optimum exercise timings for you, tailored to your gender and your fitness goals:
If you’re looking to burn more body fat, exercising in the morning might be a good idea. Women are more likely to have excess belly fat, and so morning exercise can help to burn more body fat.
A suggested reason why women would benefit more from morning exercise is due to differences in sleep patterns – women generally spend more time in deep sleep than light sleep compared to men, and therefore may be more alert in the morning. When the body is more alert, it improves their ability to exercise.
Other benefits of morning exercise for women include lowering blood pressure, and increasing lower body strength.
The study found that evening exercise enhanced muscular performance in the women cohort. This means improved muscle strength in the upper body, an increase in power and endurance, as well as a boost in overall mood.
In terms of improving strength, there was no significant difference between morning and evening exercises.
However, with evening exercises, additional benefits were observed for men, such as lower blood pressure and fatigue. Evening exercise also seemed to stimulate fat oxidation more effectively than morning exercise.
So if you’re interested in improving your heart and metabolic health, thereby reducing your risk of conditions like heart disease, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes, consider exercising in the evenings!
Cardiovascular Exercise VS Resistance Training
While research on gender-specific exercise recommendations is still nascent, the time of day may still impact your exercise goals regardless of gender.
For cardiovascular exercises (e.g. brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming), morning exercise might be best as muscle stamina and endurance will be at its highest. Mental acuity also peaks around midday, which makes sports-specific exercises good for this time period.
For resistance training (e.g. weightlifting, push-ups, pull-ups, squats) which involves working your muscles against a weight or force, mid-afternoon to evening timings may be ideal. Between 4 to 6pm, your body temperature peaks, resulting in increased pliability, speed, and strength. Doing your resistance exercises in the evenings can maximise your strength and muscle at this time. However, try to avoid workouts within 3 hours of your bedtime as it can disrupt your sleep.
The best timing to exercise is any timing that you will stick to
Regardless of gender, everyone who participated in the study saw an improvement in their overall health and performance after 12 weeks of regular exercise.
Whether morning or evening, as long as you are doing exercise that you enjoy and fits within your daily schedule, you’re on the right track.
Just like how there is no one-size-fits-all exercise routine, every individual’s health coverage will be different depending on their needs.
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