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Does It Matter When You Exercise?

Does It Matter When You Exercise?

Apple CEO Tim Cook sends out company emails at 4:30 a.m. and heads to the gym at 5:00. And LeBron James often exercises at that same early hour—even when the season is over. Lots of highly successful folks use the morning hours to get their workouts in. But there are also advantages to working out late.  

A 2010 study found postmenopausal women who took evening strolls lost more weight and fat than women who took morning strolls. Another study found muscle strength is optimal in the early evening—so later workouts may let you do more. And still another found you build slightly more muscle with a later afternoon-early evening workout. Researchers also agree that the afternoon, when your core temperature is higher, is the best time for high-intensity exercise, such as swimming, running or biking.

But truth is—late, early or in between doesn’t matter, if you don’t work out consistently.

Here are the advantages of (building up to) an exercise routine that includes: 10,000 steps or equivalent daily; strength training for 30 minutes two to three days a week; cardio for 20 minutes three times a week; 40 jumps a day: and stretching before and after workouts.

  • You reduce your risk for obesity, cardiovascular problems, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain cancers and falls.
  • It becomes easier to fall and stay asleep (when done three hours before bedtime).
  • Besides feeling overall great, you’ll see improvements in sexual arousal (for women) and reduction of the risk for ED (in men).

Medically reviewed in August 2018.

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