A study published this week suggests that the time of day when you exercise may determine your health benefits. This is because physical activity in the afternoon may offer the greatest benefits. When it comes to exercise and longevity, timing is very critical.
Researchers from the Guangdong Cardiovascular Institute in China and colleagues from other parts of China and from Sweden conducted the study using data from 92,139 UK Biobank participants. Physical activity is beneficial regardless of when it is performed.
According to the study, “Moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity at any time of day is associated with lower risks of all-cause, cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.” Exercise in the afternoon (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and mixed-timing are associated with lower risks compared to morning (5 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and evening (5 p.m. to midnight).
Cancer mortality rates were lowered by exercise regardless of the time of day. Accelerometers were used to measure when and how intensely people exercised over the course of seven days. They reviewed death records after an average of seven years. More than 3,000 participants died, about a third of whom died of heart disease and nearly two-thirds of whom died of cancer. Other causes caused about 200 deaths.
Researchers found that timing and death risk were unrelated to sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, other health effects, sleep duration, sleep midpoint, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Older adults, males, individuals with less physical activity, and those with preexisting heart conditions were most likely to benefit from exercising in the afternoon hours.