Few would argue about the importance of regular exercise but when to do it has often divided opinion. As personal trainer Deanna Hammond-Blackburn of OriGym explains to Express.co.uk, many claim that the morning is best due to the reduced impact on sleep quality, whilst others claim that the evening is better as muscle fatigue is less prevalent at this time. According to Hammond-Blackburn, the duration of the exercise is key to determining the best time for increased longevity, as well as the health and condition of the individual exercising.
As he reported, a literature review in the Integrative Medicine Research journal found that for shorter term exercise, the evening is more likely to be beneficial due to the decrease in muscle soreness.
“However, for longer term exercise (60 minutes or more) there was little to no difference in the effects of the time of day.”
Why might evening workouts be more beneficial for the muscles?
Hammond-Blackburn explains: “While exercise promotes the improvement of a lot of biological functions, there are also a lot of biological functions involved in physical activity itself, with one of the key processes being hormone production and release.
“The two main hormones involved are testosterone and cortisol.”
As Hammond-Blackburn explained, testosterone and cortisol are key to the repair and maintenance of muscles.
“The balance between these hormones has a more beneficial effect after exercising in the evening compared to the levels in the morning,” he said.
Unfortunately there is no straightforward answer when it comes to the best time to exercise for increased longevity, however it should be noted that conducting even shorter periods of exercise once a day has the potential to add years onto your life.
As Hammond-Blackburn pointed out, numerous studies have shown that maintaining a minimal quantity and quality of exercise decreases the risk of cardiovascular mortality, prevents the development of some cancers, lowers the risk of osteoporosis and increases longevity.
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What is the minimal amount of exercise I need to do to reap the benefits?
A recent study found that just 11 minutes of exercise can provide longevity benefits.
The study, published in the British Journal of Medicine, found that people who broke up a sedentary day with just 11 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise were less likely to die than those who only got about two minutes of exercise a day.
Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
As the NHS explains, one way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.
For the study, the researchers looked at data from wearable activity trackers worn by 44,370 middle-aged men and women in the U.S., Norway and Sweden.
The participants were followed for four to 14.5 years, and in that time, 3,451 participants died.
Examples of moderate intensity activities:
- Brisk walking
- Water aerobics
- Riding a bike
- Doubles tennis
- Pushing a lawn mower
Other key longevity tips
To enhance the benefits of regular exercise, you must eat a healthy, balanced diet.
“This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight,” explains the NHS.
The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
- Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
- Base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- Drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day).
“If you’re having foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts,” advises the NHS.
It adds: “Try to choose a variety of different foods from the five main food groups to get a wide range of nutrients.”