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2 Ways Morning Workouts Turbocharge the Benefits of Exercise

Ferencz Teglas/Shutterstock

Ferencz Teglas/Shutterstock

Doing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), such as brisk walking or slow jogging at any time of day, promotes well-being and influences weight management. That said, two new studies on how exercising at different times of the day affects MVPA’s benefits suggest that morning exercise may be slightly more beneficial than working out later in the day.

Morning MVPA Is Linked to Better Weight Management

The first study (Ma et al., 2023), published on September 4, is based on a cross-sectional analysis of 5,285 people who were in the habit of doing daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity either in the morning (n = 642), midday/afternoon (n = 2,456), or evening (n = 2,187).

First author Tongyu Ma of Franklin Pierce University’s Health Sciences Department and colleagues found that people with a diurnal (i.e., daily) pattern of doing at least 150 minutes of morning MVPA each week tended to have a lower BMI and waist circumference than those in the afternoon or evening clusters who did the same amount of cardio later in the day.

“The diurnal pattern of MVPA influences the association between MVPA and obesity. The promising role of morning MVPA for weight management warrants further investigation,” the authors write in their paper’s conclusion. The authors note that randomized clinical trials and prospective studies are needed to confirm the initial findings of this cross-sectional analysis. Cross-sectional data only provides a snapshot of a short time period and doesn’t show how various lifestyle factors interact over time.

This cross-sectional analysis of the link between morning MVPA and better weight management is purely correlative and doesn’t imply causation. It’s possible that “morning larks” who consistently exercise earlier in the day have more predictable schedules than “night owls” and that other lifestyle factors and daily

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