Overweight people should exercise at specific time of day according to scientists

Woman working out outdoors.
Working out at a specific time of the day is better for your health -Credit:Getty

Scientists have claimed that overweight people will see greater health benefits if they exercise at a specific time of day.

A UK Biobank study that took place over eight years has revealed that exercise between the hours of 6pm and midnight has been linked to greater health benefits for obese people.

University of Sydney researchers explored the lives of 30,000 participants for this specific study that has been published in the journal, Diabetes Care.

Experts used fitness trackers to conduct their research which found that those who did the majority of their hard physical exercise at night had the lowest risk of premature death and dying from cardiovascular disease.

Short bursts of activity lasting three minutes that left people out of breath also appeared to be crucial rather than their total amount of physical activity on the regular.

Dr Angelo Sabag, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre said: "Exercise is by no means the only solution to the obesity crisis, but this research does suggest that people who can plan their activity into certain times of the day may best offset some of these health risks.

"Due to a number of complex societal factors, around two in three Australians have excess weight or obesity which puts them at a much greater risk of major cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks and stroke, and premature death."

Woman stretching indoors on exercise mat.
Exercising at night is better for you -Credit:Getty

The authors of the study said that what they found was 'significant' due to the larger scale of the study as they defined exercise as anything as strenuous for at least three minutes.

Joint first author Dr Matthew Ahmadi National Heart Foundation postdoctoral research fellow at the University, said: "We didn’t discriminate on the kind of activity we tracked, it could be anything from power walking to climbing the stairs, but could also include structured exercise such as running, occupational labour or even vigorously cleaning the house."

Researchers used data from UK Biobank and included 29,836 adults aged over 40 living with obesity, of whom 2,995 participants were also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Those who took part were categorised into morning, afternoon or evening groups depending on when they did their aerobic exercise - which was measured by a wrist accelerometer worn continuously for 24 hours a day over seven days at study onset.

The team then linked health data from the NHS to follow participants' health trajectory for 7.9 years. Over this period they recorded 1,425 deaths, 3,980 cardiovascular events and 2,162 microvascular disfunction events.

To limit bias, the researchers accounted for differences such as age, sex, smoking, alcohol intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, sedentary time, education, medication use and sleep duration.

They also excluded participants with pre-existing cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis, Director of the Mackenzie Wearables Research Hub at the Charles Perkins Centre and senior author on the paper, said: "It is a really exciting time for researchers in this field and practitioners alike, as wearable device-captured data allow us to examine physical activity patterns at a very high resolution and accurately translate findings into advice that could play an important role in health care.

"While we need to do further research to establish causal links, this study suggests that the timing of physical activity could be an important part of the recommendations for future obesity and Type 2 diabetes management, and preventive healthcare in general."

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