Men, Women Benefit From Exercise at Different Times of Day

Though the advantages of exercise are well known, for middle-aged and elderly people, exercise is an essential everyday activity. Physical immunity can decrease with age, leaving one more vulnerable to everything from simple colds to chronic diseases. Exercise helps strengthen immunity and prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other ailments. 

To reap the benefits of exercise, choosing the best time for various activities is important. In May 2022, researchers from Skidmore College and California State University published the findings of a study in the journal Frontiers in Physiology. Researchers followed 27 women and 20 men between the ages of 25 and 55, all of whom were highly active and fit. The subjects were given 12 weeks of physical training. They exercised in the morning and evening, one hour per day, four times a week. The exercises were common exercises, including resistance, sprint intervals, stretching, and endurance training. The study found that the best time of day to exercise was related to gender.

For women, exercising in the morning compared to evening exercise resulted in greater reductions in total and abdominal fat, lower blood pressure, and markedly increased lower-body muscle power. Women who exercised in the evening had “significantly greater gains in upper body muscle strength,” power, and endurance—along with improved mood. 

Men who exercised in the evening “experienced a significantly greater reduction in systolic blood pressure,” along with fatigue and higher fat oxidation compared to morning exercisers. 

The reason why there is a significant difference in exercise results in women may be related to the previous night’s fasting. Research suggests that overnight fasting can increase the utilization of fat during aerobic exercise, and increased resistance exercise prompts the loss of fat tissue.

For men, compared with morning exercise, evening exercise is better for lowering blood pressure (9 percent and more in systolic blood pressure), fatigue (55 percent and more), and weight loss (5 percent and more in fat oxidation). Therefore, exercise time for men should be scheduled in the evening for better weight loss and reduction of risk for cardiovascular disease. 

It is currently unknown why evening exercise for men is more beneficial in lowering blood pressure than morning exercising, but it may be related to the circadian interaction of nighttime exercise and hormonal factors. The significant increase in fat oxidation for men who exercise in the evening could be attributed to the circadian regulation of metabolism, which is at its peak in the late afternoon and could facilitate fat burning.

What Do You Need To Prepare for Morning and Evening Exercise?

In general, morning exercise is often praised as superior because it provides energy in the morning and sets the stage for better productivity throughout the day. When your muscles and joints are not very flexible, but you want to exercise in the morning, then the first thing you need to do before exercise is to warm up your body so that you can avoid muscle strains or sprains. 

What do you need to prepare for when you exercise at night? You should not go to sleep immediately after exercise, there should be at least one to two hours between exercise and sleep. Because exercise can stimulate the nerves and muscles, and the body needs a process to enter a dormant state. After exercise, proper rest should be before bathing and sleeping, which may help the body enter the best sleep state.

Choose the Right Exercise Based on Its Intensity

When exercising, it’s important to consider safety, the correct time, and your favorite sports so that you can have fun while working out and maintain a regular exercise schedule. It should also be noted that the intensity of exercise that people of different ages and physiques can withstand is different, and the right exercise should be chosen according to their physical condition.

Choose the right exercise with the right intensity for you.

There are three exercise intensities, these are low, moderate, and high. Heart rate usually acts as an indicator to evaluate exercise intensity. The higher the intensity of exercise, the faster the heart rate. There is a significant correlation between heart rate and exercise intensity, oxygen uptake, and energy metabolism. Usually, an exercise with a heart rate below 120 beats per minute belongs to low intensity; between 120 and 150 beats/min belongs to moderate, and between 150 and 180 beats/min belongs to high intensity. When the heart rate is too fast during exercise and exceeds the maximum tolerance, fatigue, and sports injuries are likely to occur. 

Besides heart rate, other indicators are also used to evaluate exercise, including maximum oxygen uptake, metabolic equivalent, self-fatigue grading scale, etc. However, you can also evaluate exercise intensity by your own subjective feelings. If you can still talk freely while exercising, that is a low-intensity exercise; if you have difficulty breathing and must breathe deeply to speak, it is a moderate-intensity exercise; if you can barely speak and breathe while exercising, it is a high-intensity exercise.

Choose the Right Exercise Based on Your Age and Physical Condition

Between the ages of 26 and 45, the human body easily gets obese, because this stage is a critical period for career development, life is usually stressful due to lack of exercise. Therefore, to prevent the accumulation of fat and slow down stress, men should focus on muscle strength training, such as push-ups. Nonetheless, it is also critical to control the intensity and not challenge the body too much. For women in this period of time, it would be appropriate to take medium and low-intensity aerobic training plus strength exercises, such as yoga, jogging, and swimming.

From 46 to 65 years old, the body’s energy gradually declines, and physical strength and muscle mass begin to decline, too. Therefore, physical exercise should be performed to fight against osteoporosis; recommended exercises for this stage in life include softball and tai chi.

In general, people over 65 are at a low level of physical energy, and exercise should focus on improving the quality of life, preventing falls, and improving cardiorespiratory function. Therefore, gentle aerobic exercises, such as walking, tai chi, and square dancing, with low-intensity strength training to strengthen muscles and bones, are recommended.  

Choose the Right Type of Exercise That You Enjoy

1.) Mortality-reducing exercise—racket-swinging 

In a 2018 study published in the medical journal The Lancet-Psychiatry, researchers surveyed more than 1.2 million people and found that racket-swinging sports such as badminton, tennis, and table tennis can reduce all-cause mortality by 47 percent.

Swinging exercises can exercise the body’s coordination and various muscle groups, improve cardiorespiratory function, and at the same time make people more focused and their brains stay in an active state, which can slow down the aging of the brain. The swinging exercises are recommended three to five times a week, with each exercise lasting between 45 and 60 minutes.

2.) Exercises to relieve mental stress—team sports

It is important to study the benefits of exercise on the mental state. Studies pointed out that group exercise could improve mood by 22 percent, making it the best exercise for relieving mental stress.

Team sports like soccer, basketball, and volleyball require people to focus and work together. Team sports are recommended for 45 minutes to an hour at a time, with three to five times per week optimal.

3.) Exercises for weight loss and fat burning—aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise requires maintaining an adequate oxygen supply during the period of exercise. It is commonly associated with low to moderate-intensity exercise, including brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, aerobics, and jumping rope.

In June 2021, the European Obesity Research Society summarized exercise training recommendations for overweight and obese adults. The recommendation pointed out that for people who want to lose weight and burn fat, at least 150 to 200 minutes of aerobic exercise with moderate intensity per week is preferred.

4.) Exercises to lower blood pressure—aerobic exercise plus strength training

The overall prevalence of hypertension is on the rise, and a lack of physical activity is one of the main reasons. 

In March 2021, the European Association for the Prevention of Heart Disease (EAPC) and the ESC Committee on Hypertension published a consensus on personalized exercise prescriptions for the prevention and treatment of hypertension. 

This report states that a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training can be effective for the purpose of lowering blood pressure. The main strength training exercises include weighted squats, bench presses, jerks, plank supports, and static curls. All of these exercises can work on lowering blood pressure.

Chris Chen

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