Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Best Time of Day to Exercise Is...

...the late afternoon.

That's the word from Dr. Phyllis Zee, a neurologist at Northwestern University, who offers these common-sense reasons for exercising after lunch instead of before breakfast:

* Your muscle strength is at its highest.
* You're less likely to injure yourself.
* Unlike the very early morning, you're awake and alert.

Besides, she's got the science to prove it. Zee points to the delicate circadian rhythms in our brains--our internal body clocks--that govern when we wake and when we sleep. She asserts that working out later in the day is more productive and beneficial for our bodies because according to our internal clocks, this is the time for our best physical performance. "One of the things that circadian rhythms does is that it determines when your best performance time is," Zee told CNN. "Your ability to perform changes throughout 24 hours."

Circadian rhythms govern more than our sleep time. They also help regulate our blood pressure, body temperature, and even impact our mood. "These are rhythms that are innate," she said to CNN. "They are in almost any organism, whether you are an animal or a plant, and they recur every 24 hours."

Our body temperature is a key factor when we exercise. In the afternoon, our temperature is one to two degrees higher than it is in the morning and that makes our muscles more supple. That, in turn, lowers the risk of injury. Our maximum body temperature occurs between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Then it starts to decline.

But if you're a lark and prefer that up-with-the-sun run over an afternoon jog, then still set your alarm early. Getting regular exercise is so important to your good health that you should do it when it works best for you--no matter what time of day it is. Besides, morning exercise has one advantage over afternoon exercise: It jumpstarts the body's metabolism to burn calories better all day long. "In middle-aged and younger adults, it's probably not a big difference for them in terms of their exercise time," exercise physiologist Richard Cotton told CNN. "It is really their lifestyle and what works for them that's really important when determining your exercise time."

Source: Netscape.com

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