People who exercise in the morning seem to lose more weight than people completing the same workouts later in the day, according to a new study of workouts and waistlines.
The findings help shed light on the vexing issue of why some people shed considerable weight with exercise and others almost none, and the study adds to the growing body of science suggesting that the timing of various activities, including exercise, could affect how those activities affect us, as previously noted. Here Brad Stulberg, Outside, republished by GetPocket.com, reflects on when, exactly, to schedule your works:
“You’ve probably heard the expression that timing is everything. Sometimes broader context and other events—often those that are outside your control—can exert a significant influence on a desired outcome. Like when it storms with gale-force winds on the morning of your marathon, or when you finish your massive business proposal only to find out a colleague in another department just presented her exactly-the-same version. While there’s no doubt that unfortunate circumstances of coincidence can affect your life, emerging science is beginning to show that the inverse is equally true. If you consciously pay attention to timing, you can dramatically improve your performance, and you can dramatically improve yourself.
“I used to believe that timing was everything,” says Daniel Pink, author of the New York Times bestseller When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. “Now,” he says, “I believe that everything is timing.”
While we give tons of thought to questions about how to do certain activities or why we should do them, we hardly give any thought to when. Pink believes this oversight is costing us greatly; if we paid more attention to timing, we’d be a lot better off. According to the latest research, he has a point.
Evidence shows that performance on tasks that rely on physical and psychological capacity varies drastically based on the time of day. For example, a 2011 review article published in the journal Sports Medicine found that “the majority of components of sports performance—for example: flexibility, muscle strength, and short-term high power output—vary with time of day in a [predictable] manner.” Meanwhile, a 2013 paper published in the Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice concluded that time-of-day effects can explain up to 20 percent of the variance in performance on cognitive tasks.
As for when you should do what you do? The answer, according to Pink, depends on the type of activity you’re doing and, in some cases, the type of person you are.
Get The Most Out of Your Body
If your goal is to train hard while minimizing injury risk and performing at your best, you should schedule your workouts in the late afternoon. “Body temperature is low when we first wake up, rises steadily throughout the day, and peaks in the late afternoon and early evening,” says Pink. “This means that during later-in-the-day workouts, our muscles are warmer and injuries are less common.” Pink cites a 2011 review in the journal Sports Science and Medicine finding strong evidence that not only does injury risk decrease in late-afternoon workouts, but performance improves as well, since an increase in core body temperature also increases energy metabolism, or how fast you convert nutrients stored in your body into fuel for activity. This helps explain why muscle strength and maximal power output tend to peak in early evening, close to when body temperature reaches its daily maximum.”
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