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Evening exercise can provide more health benefits for people living with obesity or overweight. Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images
  • New research says evening exercise may be best for those living with obesity.
  • Evening exercise was associated with a lower risk of premature death.
  • It was also linked with a lower risk for cardiovascular and microvascular disease.
  • Evening exercise may help by improving sleep and metabolic health.
  • It’s important to check with your doctor and start slow with any new exercise regimen.

Exercise is important if you are living with obesity. It helps you burn more calories, build muscle, and decrease visceral fat. It also helps improve your mood, making it easier to stay motivated to make healthier lifestyle choices.

However, many people have busy schedules and want to make sure they get the most out of it when they exercise. So, is there a particular time of day for physical activity that is better than others?

According to a study published on April 10, 2024, in the journal Diabetes Care, if you’re goal is to get in better shape, evening exercise may be the most beneficial to your health.

How often you engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity in the evening seems to matter, too.

In fact, researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, say it may be more important than how much exercise you get throughout the day.

The study included nearly 30,000 people with obesity over the age of 40, including almost 3,000 who had type 2 diabetes. They were followed for almost eight years.

The study participants were asked to wear activity trackers to determine when they got most of their moderate to vigorous aerobic activity (the type of activity that gets us breathing harder and our hearts pumping faster).

People were categorized according to whether they got most of their aerobic activity during the morning, afternoon, or evening.

The researchers also looked at the frequency with which people participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Each time they entered this zone for three or more minutes, this was counted as one bout.

After they analyzed the data, the team found that those who did moderate to vigorous activities in the evening — from 6 p.m. to midnight — had the lowest risk of premature death.

They were also less likely to die from cardiovascular disease (conditions like heart attack, heart failure, and stroke) or microvascular disease (a condition where the small arteries of the heart are not functioning properly).

When it came to the frequency of aerobic exercise bouts, they found that this seemed to be more important than the total amount of physical activity people did throughout the day.

However, in a press release, joint first author Dr. Matthew Ahmadi emphasized that they did not track structured exercise. Because of this, it is not possible to determine exactly what people were doing.

He also noted that since it was an observational study, it was impossible to determine the direction of causality. People may have been exercising less because they already had certain health conditions.

Sergii Putsov — who has a PhD in Sports Science and is Head of Sport Science at Torokhtiy Weightlifting — pointed to several benefits that evening exercise might have for those with obesity.

“Evening exercise can significantly enhance sleep quality since it regulates your body’s internal clock and promotes the release of melatonin, a hormone crucial for sleep regulation,” he said.

Putsov said it can also help you feel relaxed and reduce stress, making it easier to fall asleep and sleep well.

“Being physically active late in the day is also associated with improved metabolic function,” he added, “which may lead to better insulin sensitivity, increased calorie expenditure, and fat oxidation.”

Finally, Putsov said that evening exercise can help you unwind and alleviate tension.

“[I]t triggers the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters known for promoting feelings of happiness and well-being,” he explained.

Andrew White, a Certified Personal Trainer with Garage Gym Pro, said, “Starting a new exercise routine, especially for those living with obesity, can feel daunting.”

To help you ease into things gradually, he said it’s important to talk with your doctor. You can discuss any physical limitations you may have, ensuring you get off to a safe start.

Once you get the go-ahead from your doctor, White advises starting slow.

“Begin with low impact, moderate-intensity activities that are manageable and don’t cause discomfort, like walking, swimming, cycling, and resistance training,” he suggested. “Gradually increase intensity and duration as fitness improves.”

White also says to set realistic, achievable goals for yourself. This will help you feel a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to incorporate variety into your routine.

“Keep workouts varied to prevent boredom and overuse injuries and ensure a well-rounded approach to fitness,” he advised.

It’s also important to pay attention to how your body is responding.

“It’s important to push yourself to make progress but avoid pushing too hard to the point of injury or burnout,” said White.

Finally, White suggests getting support from other people, whether that’s through a group exercise class, a personal trainer, or a friend. This will help keep you accountable and make exercise more fun.

White concluded by saying, “While evening exercise may offer specific benefits for individuals with obesity, the most important factor is finding a routine that is enjoyable, sustainable, and fits into one’s lifestyle.”

“Regardless of the time of day, regular physical activity is a key component of managing obesity and improving overall health,” he said.

A new study has found that evening exercise appears to be most beneficial for those with obesity.

Also, how often you engage in bouts of moderate to vigorous activity in the evening appears to be more important than how much activity you get throughout the day.

Evening exercisers had a lower risk for premature death, cardiovascular disease, and microvascular disease.

Evening exercise may help those with obesity by contributing to better sleep and improved metabolic health.

If you are living with obesity, it’s important to get your doctor’s okay for beginning and start slow. You should also set realistic goals and pay attention to how your body responds.

Vary your workouts and get support from other people to help keep yourself motivated.