According to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, afternoon exercise may help reduce the risk of premature death more than morning and evening workouts. This large-scale study analyzed data from over 90,000 men and women. After wearing an activity tracker for a week, the participants were organized into groups depending on how often and when they chose to move. After seven years, the researchers compared the movement patterns to the cohort’s mortality records (morbid, we know).
The least shocking correlation? The people who did moderate to vigorous physical activity lived longer than those that rarely worked out. But the most surprising discovery? Completing that exercise in the middle of the day might actually help you live longer.
The study found that participants (particularly both men and the elderly) who exercised between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. “showed significantly decreased risks of all-cause mortality” as well as a “lowered risk of cardiovascular disease mortality,” meaning afternoon movers were less likely to die of heart disease when compared to those who stuck to the morning or evening. These findings led researchers to declare that specific exercise timing “may have the potential to maximize the health benefits of daily [physical activity]," especially in regards to long-term health—a claim that, up until now, had never been clear.
The Bottom Line
Timing aside, there's a boatload of research confirming any movement is good movement. So, whether you’re a sunrise sweater, lunchtime warrior or evening exerciser, you’ll reap the numerous health benefits that come along with moving your body. It's all about personal preference (and, ya know, your work-life balance).
If you’re curious how the other groups stacked up, read on for additional research-backed benefits of getting your sweat on in the morning or evening.