The Best Time of Day to Get the Most From Your Workout

For Herrol, every day feels like a black-and-white movie...

He's one of the residents of Pingelap Atoll, which is nicknamed the "Island of the Colorblind."

Achromatopsia, or total colorblindness, typically affects 0.003% of people worldwide. But an estimated 10% of the people in this small trio of islands in Micronesia can only see in monochrome.

Nearly 250 years ago, a typhoon left only a few survivors – with the gene mutation for achromatopsia among the conditions that were passed down.

Not only are the affected folks colorblind, but their eyes are super sensitive to light.

As the BBC described in 2015, all Herrol can see under the bright island sun is "a painful burnt-out image, like a badly over-exposed black and white photo."

But one perk comes with this condition...

Exceptional night vision.

And it's why Herrol prefers fishing at night. He and his buddies hang torches on their boats to attract flying fish.

Of course, these colorblind islanders aren't the only nocturnal humans...

Thanks in part to the 19th-century invention of artificial light (i.e., the lightbulb), much of the world now operates on a 24/7 schedule. Before the lightbulb, people mostly worked during the day. Candles were often expensive and didn't offer much light. So for folks living by fire and candlelight, the day would mostly wind down when the sun set.

But today, we go out and enjoy nightlife and read (or scroll on our phones) until late in the night. And people in industries like health care and manufacturing do shiftwork to keep the world going at all hours of the day – all without needing a gene for night vision.

Because we can do almost anything any time of day, people often wonder what's the best time of day to do certain things, like eat, drink caffeine, and exercise.

A new study might answer the question of when the best time of the day is to exercise. If you've been battling problems with controlling your blood-sugar levels, moving your workout to the evening could give you the edge over your foe...

That's according to a Spanish study recently published in the journal Obesity. Researchers tracked the blood-sugar and moderate-to-vigorous physical-activity ("MVPA") levels of 186 middle-aged folks for two weeks.

Each participant wore a continuous glucose monitor and an accelerometer. And each participant was overweight, sedentary (with fewer than 150 minutes of MVPA each week under his/her belt), and had at least one metabolic abnormality – like having abnormal fasting glucose, an abnormal HbA1c reading (which is the average blood-sugar level over the past two to three months), insulin resistance, hypertension, and lipid abnormalities.

Spending more than half of the day's MVPA time from 6 a.m. to noon counted as a "morning" workout. Similarly, an "afternoon" workout meant greater than 50% of the day's MVPA happened between noon and 6 p.m. "Evening" workouts took place between 6 p.m. and midnight.

An "inactive" day for a participant would be zero minutes of MVPA, "somewhat active" was up to 21 minutes, "active" was from 21 to 43 minutes, and "very active" was more than 43 minutes.

The study showed that the evening-workout participants significantly lowered their blood sugar, with the effect lasting for hours – even for 24 hours – after exercising.

Another bonus to a night-owl workout is that you're less likely to injure yourself. According to a 2021 review, your body temperature peaks at night, which means warmer muscles. Plus, your muscles tend to be strongest in the evening.

Now, morning workouts also have their benefits...Studies have shown morning workouts are associated with getting more deep sleep, having better moods, controlling blood pressure, and losing more weight. Plus, a.m. workouts align with the natural early-morning jump in levels of your stress hormone, cortisol.

Even better is if you're working out at the same time each day (or night)... A University of Manchester study from November suggests that exercising at around the same time each day could protect your bones and joints from premature aging.

But what really matters most is that you're consistently working out. I often travel back and forth between my home upstate and our Baltimore office. So I admit it's hard to stay on schedule.

Still, I try to work out around the same times in the stretch of days I'm shacked up in Baltimore or at home. And nearly every day (unless the weather is terrible), I love getting in a brisk walk after lunch. Even just two minutes of walking right after eating can help control your blood sugar.

P.S. Did you miss it? Last month, I covered the real way that cholesterol relates to heart disease. And yesterday, I followed up with my take on a controversial topic: statins. (If you're not a subscriber to Retirement Millionaire, click here.)

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
June 13, 2024