A study from Leiden University Medical Centre has found that morning exercise is best for mitigating against cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The large-scale research, spanning six years and involving almost 90,000 participants, tracked via wearables like the best running watches, reveals a fascinating insight.

While breaking a sweat anytime of the day is going to benefit overall health, the groundbreaking prospective study pinpoints a specific window that could offer the clearest advantages in mitigating the likelihood of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke.

The research highlights that physical activity during the morning hours, specifically between the hours of 8am and 11am, offers the most positive impact on an individual’s risk of CVD and stroke compared to other time frames.

Interestingly, the study’s authors note that those who exercise both early and late in the morning, as opposed to during mid-morning hours, reaped the most substantial rewards.

Our view? If work and family commitments allow, rise and grind, because those early morning gains could be your ticket to a healthier heart and a sharper mind. If it’s simply not possible for you to exercise in the morning, though, don’t beat yourself up; as long as you’re working out consistently and effectively, you don’t need to be overly concerned with when you can fit it in.

runner stretching before a morning run
Despite the research, ultimately what you do when you exercise remains more important than when you do it

Seven other benefits of morning exercise

1. Turbocharge your metabolism

Morning workouts get your metabolism revved up early, helping you burn more calories throughout the day. This afterburn effect, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), keeps your body in fat-burning mode long after you’ve left the gym.

2. Boost mental sharpness 

Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that enhance your mood and mental clarity. Starting your day with a workout can improve focus and cognitive function, making you more productive and alert at work.

3. Enhance consistency 

Morning workouts help establish a routine. By making exercise the first task of the day, you’re less likely to skip it due to unexpected commitments or fatigue that can arise later. 

4. Improve sleep quality 

Regular morning exercise can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, promoting better sleep patterns. Working out early encourages your body to wind down in the evening, too.

5. Elevate mood and reduce stress 

Exercise is a natural stress reliever. Starting your day with a workout can help you tackle daily stressors with a more positive attitude. The endorphin rush post-exercise can also reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

6. Optimise hormonal balance 

Morning workouts align with your body’s hormonal fluctuations. Testosterone – which we’ve identified as one of six vital hormones to boost happiness – aids in muscle growth and fat loss, and is typically higher in the morning. Taking advantage of this can enhance your workout performance and results.

7. Eat better

Exercising in the morning can set a positive tone for your dietary choices throughout the day. You’re more likely to eat a healthy breakfast and stay mindful of your nutrition, knowing you’ve already put in the effort to work out.