Morning run

Morning or Evening

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have learned that the effect of exercise may differ depending on the time of day it is performed.

We probably all know how important a healthy circadian rhythm is. Too little sleep can have severe health consequences. But researchers are still making new discoveries confirming that the body’s circadian clock affects our health.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen – in collaboration with researchers from the University of California, Irvine – have learned that the effect of exercise may differ depending on the time of day it is performed.

There appear to be rather significant differences between the effect of exercise performed in the morning and evening, and these differences are probably controlled by the body’s circadian clock. Morning exercise initiates gene programs in the muscle cells, making them more effective and better capable of metabolising sugar and fat. Evening exercise, on the other hand, increases whole-body energy expenditure for an extended period of time.

The researchers have measured a number of effects in the muscle cells, including the transcriptional response and effects on the metabolites. The results show that responses are far stronger in both areas following exercise in the morning and that this is likely to be controlled by a central mechanism involving the protein HIF1-alfa, which directly regulates the body’s circadian clock.

Morning exercise appears to increase the ability of muscle cells to metabolise sugar and fat, and this type of effect interests the researchers in relation to people with severe overweight and type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, the results also show that exercise in the evening increases energy expenditure in the hours after exercise. Therefore, the researchers cannot necessarily conclude that exercise in the morning is better than exercise in the evening.

About Author:

Quintus van Rensburg is an Athletics South Africa Certified Coach, registered with Western Province Athletics. He serves on the Western Province Athletics Statistics Standing Committee and on the Bellville Athletics Management Committee as records official, statistician and coach. He competes in road running in distances ranging from 10 km to 100 km, with a focus on endurance events.

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