Multiple studies show that morning exercise is beneficial to achieving weight loss goals
There’s no getting around it: To lose weight and keep it off, you need to exercise. But some days that hardly seems possible. Our days are overbooked already! Yet experts agree – exercise must become part of your overall daily lifestyle. And starting the morning with exercise is the best habit of all.
“The key is getting exercise whenever you can – whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening,” says Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist of the American Council on Exercise. “Your goal is to move your body as much as possible.”
But by starting your morning with physical activity, you set the day’s pace, Bryant says. “Morning exercisers tend to stick with their exercise habit,” he says. “By doing the bulk of exercise first thing in the morning, you get your exercise in before other distractions can intrude. We can all relate to that — because once the day gets going, it’s hard to get off the treadmill called life.”
The sleep – weight loss connection
Another important point to consider is that research suggests morning exercise improves sleep, a benefit that could also promote weight loss, Bryant tells us. One study of overweight women between the ages of 50 to 75 showed that those who engaged in consistent morning exercise (about four hours a week) slept better than those who exercised less. The evening exercisers had more trouble falling asleep – even if they fit in the four hours a week.
Bryant explains the connection of sleep and weight loss: “We know that if you have poor quality sleep, it influences certain hormones that control appetite. It is possible that by exercising in the morning — instead of evening – the exercise affects the body’s circadian rhythm (your internal body clock) so you get better-quality sleep. Good sleep helps control the hormonal balance that helps control appetite.”
Burn more calories?
Evidence from a study published in The Journal Physiology shows that exercising in a ‘fasted state’ engages our body to burn more fat and potentially prevent weight gain, the New York Times reports.
In the study, researchers convinced healthy, young men to gorge themselves for six weeks on a diet consisting of 20 percent more calories and 50 percent more fat than what they were eating before. Some volunteers were asked to remain sedentary; another portion began a strenuous, midmorning exercise routine after eating breakfast; and the third group performed the same workout regimen, only they completed the exercise before eating in the morning.
In the end, the sedentary group surprised no one and became ‘supersized and unhealthy,’ having gained about six pounds each, in addition to developing insulin resistance. The men who exercised after breakfast also developed insulin problems, but only packed on about three pounds each. And the men who exercised first thing in the morning on an empty stomach gained almost no weight and retained healthy insulin levels. They were also burning more fat throughout the day.
‘We demonstrated…that early-morning exercise in the fasted state is more potent than an identical amount of exercise in the fed state” for maintaining healthy waistlines,’ Peter Hespel, a professor in the Research Center for Exercise and Health and the study author, told the New York Times.
Convinced of the benefits of morning exercise? Push your alarm back an hour or so and kick-start your day. This may very well be the optimal fat-burning, weight loss strategy.