Those who exercise in the morning may be better protected from cardiovascular problems and strokes, according to a large-scale study.
The early risers will agree that there’s nothing better than getting up at dawn, before your first coffee, and getting out for a run. For those who prefer sleeping in longer, it might sound like torture. It has long been proven that exercising in the morning can have a number of advantages: the circulatory system gets going, blood flow is stimulated, and studies indicate that fat burning is boosted faster before breakfast. Once you have overcome yourself, the psychological effect should be great: you simply start your day fresh.
The morning exercise session could have another reason now:
A working group from the Leiden University Section of Gerontology and Geriatrics suggests that physical exercise may have a greater preventive effect than previously thought depending on the time of day. Data from the UK Biobank, an extensive medical database containing lifestyle and health information from around 500,000 people across the country, was analysed by researchers. Their findings were published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
Among the participants, the average age ranged from 42 to 78 years. 58 percent of the participants were female, and the average body mass index was 26.6 – the index indicates body weight to height as a ratio, so a BMI of 25 or higher indicates overweight. Nearly 57 percent of participants described themselves as “morning people”.
Lower risk of coronary heart disease
After recording the participants’ physical activity for seven days, the scientists determined their long-term activity level. They observed the participants for six years, recording 3707 cardiovascular events during this time period. Participants who exercised in the morning had a 16 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease and a 17 percent lower risk of stroke than those who exercised more in the afternoon.
The conclusions of other studies differ
The working group concludes that morning physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease regardless of overall physical activity. Chrono Activity is a method of determining the timing of physical activity.
Nevertheless, the researchers themselves point out that some studies come to different conclusions: One study from 2021, for example, found that evening exercise leads to better heart rate recovery and lower blood pressure. According to a Swedish study published in 2019, exercise in the afternoon was more effective at improving blood sugar levels than exercise in the morning – even more so: exercise in the morning has been shown to cause blood sugar levels to go up.