(NEW YORK) — A new study finds that people who tend to exercise early in the morning also tend to have healthier eating habits and lower weight.
Although research is mixed on the best time to exercise, overall, medical experts say the most important thing is to fit physical activity into your schedule, no matter what time of day it is.
The study, published Tuesday in the medical journal Obesity, looked at at the activity and health data of over 5,000 people in the United States.
Those who exercised earlier in the day, between 7 and 9 a.m., were found to have lower body mass index, or BMI, and lower waist size than other study participants who exercised later in the day. They also found that people who exercised in the morning spent more time performing sedentary behaviors later in the day.
The study’s authors also found that the morning exercise group chose healthier habits, like eating better, throughout the day.
The authors also noted that more research needs to be done, and that their study was just a first step.
Physical activity has proved to be beneficial for all ages. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity reduces the risk of depression, improves bone health, and increases some measures of academic performance in children. For adults, physical activity lowers the risk of stroke and high blood pressure, and also improves mental health.
The CDC states that despite the proven benefits, only half of adults get the physical activity they need, while getting enough physical activity could prevent 1 in 10 premature deaths.
The current movement guidelines from the CDC state that adults should get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, along with two days of muscle strengthening activity.
Moderate-intensity physical activity is defined by the CDC as any activity that “gets you breathing harder and your heart beating faster,” and can include everything from mowing the lawn to walking, biking or dancing. The weekly exercise requirement breaks down to just 30 minutes a day, five days per week.
The CDC notes that the 150 minutes per week recommendation is a minimum goal, and that going beyond that will provide more health benefits.
If a person is doing a more vigorous aerobic activity, like jogging, the minimum requirement is 75 minutes per week, according to the CDC.
Another key guideline for adults is to move more and sit less, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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