Morning Exercise Boosts Weight Loss

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
November 25, 2019

Exercising may be tricky when it comes to losing weight. If you do, try to exercise earlier in the day. Morning exercise can boost weight loss for many people.

Morning work-outs could be the key to weight loss.

People vary a great deal in how exercise affects their weight. It’s even possible to gain weight when you take up an exercise program, and many people don’t lose as much as they hope to.

In the Midwest Exercise Trial 2, about 100 overweight, previously inactive young men and women worked out five times a week at a physiology lab, burning up to 600 calories per session. Everyone had dropped weight after 10 months. But the differences among them were dramatic. Some of the participants began eating more, one report found, but not really enough to explain why they lost so little.


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The researchers decided to analyze how the timing of your exercise affected the outcome . The participants went to the lab between 7 a.m and 7 p.m., signing in each time. The data also included everyone’s weights, calorie intakes, and daily movement habits throughout the 10 months.

It turned out that people who worked out before noon on most days lost more weight, on average, than those who tended to come after 3 p.m. Morning exercisers also tended to be more active during the day and ate slightly less. The differences were small but seemed to add up to affect weight loss.

Separate research has found that the timing of your exercise could also affect your sleep. Gym sessions close to bedtime can keep you up. On the other hand, 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise earlier in the day can improve your sleep that same night. Good sleep helps control the hormonal balance that regulates appetite.

You might think of your morning exercise as a business appointment — a priority.

Think about it: Could you get to a gym in the morning? Could you bike to work? If you take a train or bus to work, could you bike to a more distant stop? Maybe park your car a bit away from your office and walk the remainder?

Of course, if you must exercise later, it’s still worth doing. Any movement is better than none, and exercise will improve your health even if you don’t slim down as much as you’d like. When you go to the mall, the grocery store, or the office, park your car as far away as you can. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. You’re more likely to stick to a program that’s convenient and activities you enjoy. Another strategy is to break up your workouts into chunks. Do a little in the morning and more later. Many of the 4,000 "successful losers" in The National Weight Control Registry — people who lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year — exercise in chunks, adding up to an hour a day.


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November 25, 2019

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell