The timing of exercise is linked to the risk of stroke and heart attack

The timing of exercise is linked to the risk of stroke and heart attack

November 14, 2022• Press release

People who exercise more in the morning have a lower risk of stroke and heart attack. This is the result of a study conducted by researchers at Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). It’s not just about intense exercise like sports, it’s also about all the exercises in the day. The study appeared today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

“Physical exercise is good for your health, and almost everyone knows that,” says doctoral student Ghali Al-Ballaq. “When we talk about the health benefits of exercise, it quickly turns to how often and how intensely you exercise, and almost never talking about when you can do your best exercise.” By examining the exercise data of more than 85,000 Britons, Elbalaq and his colleagues found that people who exercised more in the late morning, from 9am to 11am, had a 16% lower risk of heart attack and a 17% lower risk of heart attack. from a heart attack, and less chance of having a stroke. This is compared to people who do not have a clear peak in exercise.

biological clock

“So the timing seems to matter,” says Elbalak. According to the researchers, the explanation for this lies in our biological clock. It ensures that everything in our bodies, from cells to organs, has a 24-hour rhythm. “It’s important to have all of these rhythms in sync,” says Elbulk. “If you get down, which sometimes happens to people who work night shifts, your risk of developing diseases of old age, such as diabetes and dementia, increases.”

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Exercise, as well as the timing of your eating and exposure to light, ensures that your biological clock stays in the right rhythm. “We believe that the peak of physical activity in the morning is in line with your biological rhythm and that more health benefits can be achieved in this way. In this case, with a lower risk of heart attack and cerebral infarction, ”explains co-researcher Raymond Nordam.

Greater effect in women

The ages of the participants in this UK population study ranged from 42 to 78 years. They wore a wristband that tracked their movements for a week. On this basis, they were divided into four groups: people who exercise more early in the morning, late in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. The participants were followed for 8 years to see how many of them had a heart or brain infarction. It turns out that this was approximately 3800. We then calculated which exercise pattern had the lowest risk of this, Nordam says. Turns out this is in the late morning and is independent of the total amount of exercise in the day and therefore also applies to people who exercise very little.

Interestingly, this effect was greater in women. After breaking them down by gender, the researchers found that women who exercised more in the morning had a 22% to 24% lower risk of heart attack. The researchers can’t explain exactly why this is so with the design of this study, which used historical data.

sports lessons

The effect of exercise timing on your health is a relatively new area of ​​research. Therefore, the underlying mechanisms are often not clear, but there is increasing evidence of the importance of timing. Whether exercising in the morning is the only reason to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke has to be shown by studies in which people are instructed in advance to exercise at a certain time. Nordem and Balk themselves will soon begin this intervention study for older adults, giving them exercise classes in the morning or evening. Bulk: “Ultimately, we don’t want to tell people that they should exercise more, but also when they can do it better.”

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This research was funded by the Dutch Heart Foundation and the NWO-funded BioClock project. Read the full article at European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

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