New study links the timing of physical activity to greater heart-protective benefits

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heart-health-improved-by-simple-routine(NaturalHealth365)  We all know exercise is essential for overall well-being and heart health.  But does it matter what time of day you exercise?

According to a new study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, it may.  The data suggest that physical activity at certain times of day is linked to greater heart-protective benefits.

Exercising during this time of day could be best for protecting your heart health

The recent study evaluated data from the UK Biobank on almost 87,000 men and women.  The Biobank kept track of the physical activity levels as well as the heart health of the participants.  By looking at the data, researchers sought to determine whether the time of day people exercise played a role in heart health.

The participants were all healthy when the monitoring began.  They wore activity trackers to determine the times of day they did physical activity.  The participants’ heart health status was monitored for about six years.  All participants were between the ages of 42 and 78, and over half were women.

During the six years, over 3,000 study participants developed heart disease or a stroke.  However, the participants who exercised in the late morning – primarily between 8 AM and 11 AM – appeared to have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.  In fact, compared to people who exercised at other times of day, the morning exercisers experienced up to 24% lower risk of heart disease and 35% less risk of stroke!

Why does exercise timing matter?

Despite these results, researchers don’t have a clear answer as to why the timing of physical activity might make a difference.  Interestingly, the increased heart-protective benefits of morning exercise were only noted in women.  There was no difference seen in men.

Still, the findings warrant further research into exercise timing.  Researchers suggest that the benefits of morning exercise could be related to the way the body’s metabolism works at different times of the day.  In other words, the timing of food intake could impact heart health benefits, influencing the study findings.  This may be because nutrient storage and metabolism can change throughout the day.

In addition, exercise holds many other benefits, including stress reduction and improving mood.  So it’s possible that lower stress throughout the day also impacts heart disease risk.

Whatever the case, the study suggests that morning exercise is ideal, especially for women.

How to promote optimal heart health

Even if you can’t exercise in the morning, it’s better to exercise whenever you can than not at all.  However, starting the day with physical activity is probably a good idea for anyone who can do it, although exercise timing seems to mainly affect women.

Morning exercise also can help you feel better overall and more prepared for the day.  On top of exercise, eating a healthy diet is essential for protecting your heart.  Aim for a diet rich in nutrient-dense organic fruits and vegetables and try to minimize toxic processed foods.  Cutting back on sugar intake will also have heart health benefits.

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