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Lifespan News – Best Time to Exercise

Circadian rhythms appear to have an effect on exercise recovery.

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This episode of Lifespan News features some rather surprising results gleaned from examining the effects of regular morning exercise on UK Biobank participants.

Script

The cheeky little buggers at the UK Biobank convinced 100k people to agree to wear sophisticated accelerometers on their bodies around the clock revealing their exercise intensity, timing, as well as other physical activity not deemed exercise, like carrying groceries or walking stairs, and I’m assuming other stuff. Huh, that’s odd, user JQ278 has an overactive accelerometer in his right forearm. Or maybe he has some sort of butter churning business? Maybe he loves waving to people?

Welcome to Lifespan News. I’m Emmett Short. Today, we’re talking about a new study published in Nature Communications about exercise and all cause mortality. And in case you were hoping that maybe this time the data might finally show exercise is bad for you, no, once again the data confirmed you die less when you exercise. The correlation of not dying and exercise grew stronger from 0 to 150 minutes of exercise a week and plateaued at around 200 minutes per week. This was true for all three types of mortality considered: all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer. Exercise improved your chances of not dying from cardiovascular issues by 4 times. Sure there’s no guarantee you’ll live longer if you exercise, but at least you’ll have an excuse for wearing sweatpants all day.

The study mainly looked at MVPA, or moderate to vigorous physical activity, at certain times of day. The finding was that people who had the bulk of their MVPA either in the morning or in the evening didn’t get as much of a benefit as those who exercised mostly during midday-afternoon or mixed hours. Even in models adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level, diet, smoking, alcohol intake, sleep quality, and total exercise volume, the midday-afternoon and mixed hours groups showed a whopping 28% and 26% more of a reduction in cardiovascular mortality compared to the morning group. That’s a lot. That’s a substantial difference. And as someone who gets up early to exercise before work I just have to say, damn, really?

Yes, really. The researchers mentioned circadian rhythms might affect recovery and that previous studies showed faster recovery of systolic blood pressure after exercise in the late afternoon than in the early morning. So, yeah, exercising at certain times of the day might be more effective for certain people, especially those with existing cardiovascular conditions. So again, for my fellow morning workout people, I have to express that that’s annoying.

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If you ask me though, people whose schedule allows them to exercise smack in the middle of their work day seem to be living a pretty easy go lucky, stress-free life in the first place. That might be skewing the results.

After all, this was a populational study, so you can’t establish causation, and who knows how many confounding variables are mucking up the data. It also has design limitations, such as they only wore the accelerometers for a week. But the results were pretty significant so it does suggest the time of exercise could be important. Important enough to quit your job to focus on your exercise regimen? That’s a personal choice.

So, when do you exercise, and why? What have your experiences been? Let us know in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe and click the bell so you can stay up to date on aging research. I’m Emmett Short and we’ll see you next time on Lifespan News!

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CategoryLifespan News, News