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Huge myth about exercise finally debunked

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If you’ve ever wanted to hit snooze instead of getting up for that 6 am gym class you booked yourself into, now you’ve got the perfect excuse.

A new study has identified the best time to workout is in the evening as getting a sweat on after 6pm has a surprising health benefit compared to getting it done first thing.

Researchers at the University of Sydney, Australia found that people who exercise at night have a lower risk of developing heart disease and dying than those who exercise in the morning.

The exercise routines and outcomes of 30,000 obese people with an average age of 62 were analyzed over eight years with the goal of answering the age-old question: Does the time of day you move your body make a difference to your health?


Those who exercised later in the day were less likely to develop heart disease. StratfordProductions – stock.adobe.com

The study found that obese people who exercised after 6 pm had a 61 percent lower risk of dying and a 36 percent lower risk of developing heart disease compared to obese people who didn’t exercise at all.

Conversely, participants who exercised in the morning had about half the benefit, as they were only 33 percent less likely to die and 17 percent less likely to develop heart disease.

“This study suggests that the timing of physical activity could be an important part of the recommendations for future obesity and type 2 diabetes management, and preventive healthcare in general,” Professor Emmaneul Stamatakis, study author and Director of the Mackenzie Wearables Research Hub at Charles Perkins Centre said.

Researchers made the surprising discovery by analysing each individual’s physical activity over a week using a 24 hour fitness tracker.

Their physical activity was not limited to exercise, but included things like walking and cleaning the house, while differences in age, sex, smoking habits and diet intake were also taken into consideration.


Young sportswoman monitoring her workout performance on a smartwatch
Participants who exercised in the morning had about half the benefit, as they were only 33 percent less likely to die and 17 percent less likely to develop heart disease. Jacob Lund – stock.adobe.com

Participants were sorted into four categories depending on when the majority of their activity occurred: morning, afternoon and evening.

Morning exercisers worked out between 6 am and noon, while afternoon athletes got a sweat on from noon to 6 pm.

Evening participants exercised from 6 pm to midnight and had the best outcomes compared to the other two groups, the study concluded.

Researchers stressed the findings are observational but said they build on smaller trials run in the past.

“Due to a number of complex societal factors, around two in three Australians have excess weight or obesity which puts them at a much greater risk of major cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks and stroke, and premature death,” said Dr Angelo Sabag, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Sydney, said in a statement.

“Exercise is by no means the only solution to the obesity crisis, but this research does suggest that people who can plan their activity into certain times of the day may best offset some of these health risks.”

Health fanatics have long debated when the ideal time to work out is for the best results, with some claiming first thing in the morning is best as others favor later at night.

But the new data certainly seems to suggest getting to the gym early doors isn’t always the best option.

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