When to Exercise? Depends on your Rhythm
Posted on January 13, 2016 by Donna Jenkins
No one doubts the benefit or the importance of exercise on the human body. What has been in debate, however, is the timing of the exercise. Some promote an early morning time frame to get people up and moving. However, others promote an early evening time frame to coincide with natural biological rhythms.
Circadian rhythms moderate all functions of the human body. These rhythms are a biological function that tents to have a cycle of about 24.2 hours on average.
Many things are affected by circadian rhythms: body temperature, sleep cycles, and production of hormones. These rhythms are even affected by exercise, though to what extent is still up for debate. However, in general, it is shown that better athletic performance is achieved in the late afternoon and early evening. This may be because exercise related rhythms peak at this time.
Endurance rhythms are stable throughout the day. However, it is at this time that reaction time, joint flexibility, and power all seem to peak. It is also during the evening that the rate of perceived exertion lessens, allowing for harder work for better results.
However, exercise before sleep can affect circadian rhythms. The sleep cycle is associated with a decrease in body temperature and an increase in the production of melatonin. Exercising close to one’s bedtime results in an increase of body temperature and a decrease in this sleep-inducing hormone.
When exercise expends energy, this energy must be replaced. Therefore, after an exercise session one must consume calories. A post exercise meal can be crucial to obtaining the right amount of sleep. A final meal high in protein and carbohydrates can both reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep. Meals high in fat, however, appear to reduce the duration of sleep.
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