Latest research indicates that early morning activity between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. might be beneficial for shedding pounds, though age and lifestyle factors complicate the findings.
Newly published research in the journal Obesity indicates that exercising during the early morning hours — specifically between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. — may contribute more to weight loss.
The study’s lead researcher, Tongyu Ma, a research assistant professor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, stated, “My cautious suggestion from this study is that if we choose to exercise in the early morning, before we eat, we can potentially lose more weight compared to exercise at other times of the day.”
To reach these conclusions, Ma and his team analysed two years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national health and nutrition examination survey. This included lifestyle, exercise, and eating habits of over 5,200 adults aged 20 and older, who wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity.
The findings revealed that individuals engaging in moderate to vigorous morning exercise had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) compared to those who exercised at midday or evening.
However, Ma noted that age could be a confounding factor, as those who exercised in the morning were, on average, more than a decade older than evening exercisers.
Other lifestyle factors also seemed to play a role.
Despite these intriguing findings, Ma emphasised that only a clinical trial could definitively establish the advantages of morning exercise. In such a study, researchers could control for age, lifestyle, and eating habits, making direct comparisons more reliable.
While numerous studies over the past decade have explored the optimal time for exercise, this research is unlikely to be the final word. Yet, several factors support the notion of morning workouts.
Among these are the body’s internal molecular clock, which regulates various metabolic functions and may be ‘reset’ through exercise. Additionally, Ma suggested that fasting overnight and exercising before breakfast might enable the body to burn fat rather than carbohydrates.
However, experts also stressed that for those targeting weight loss, an early morning workout should be part of a broader, balanced lifestyle that includes a healthy diet.