Many of us sit at our desks all day, sit on the train, in the car and in the evening we sit again – on the couch. If you spend so many hours of your life without moving, you increase your risk of suffering from heart disease in the future. Exercise is a factor that is often underestimated in prevention, reports the German Heart Foundation. Even a brisk ten-minute walk every day lowers your personal risk of cardiovascular disease by 20 percent. Many of the more than 204,000 deaths from heart disease in Germany every year could be avoided with more exercise. Researchers from Leiden University have now found that exercise in the morning hours is particularly beneficial for heart health.
"It's well known that exercise is good for heart health, and our study now shows that morning activity appears to be most beneficial," study author Gali Albalak, from Leiden University Medical Center, said in a statement. The results were particularly pronounced in women – regardless of whether they tend to be early risers or night owls.
The team led by study leader Gali Albalak used data from the UK biodatabase. Overall, the researchers evaluated data from 86,657 adults aged 42 to 78 years. None of the subjects had any cardiovascular disease at the start of the study. For seven days, the participants wore an activity tracker on their wrist to measure their physical activity. During the six to eight year follow-up period, 2,911 subjects developed coronary artery disease and 796 suffered a stroke.
The researchers found that the risk of stroke and heart disease was lowest in those participants who were most active in the morning hours. In order to further investigate this finding, the researchers divided the subjects into four groups in a second step - depending on their activity time. Group one included those who exercised mostly at lunchtime. It served as a reference group for the researchers. In group two were the women and men who trained early in the morning (around 8am). According to the data, the third group was particularly active in the morning (around 10 a.m.) and the fourth in the evening from 7 p.m.
The result: those participants who were most active in the early morning or in the morning had an eleven percent or 16 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to the reference group. Those who were most active in the late morning had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke compared to the reference group.
The effect was even greater in the female subjects: women who were most active early in the morning or late in the morning had a 22 percent and 24 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, respectively, compared to the reference group. The morning group of women had a 35 percent lower risk of stroke.
The researchers were unable to use their results to explain why exercise, especially in the morning, protects against heart disease and stroke and why this effect is particularly pronounced in women, as this is an observational study. Why exercise in the morning is particularly beneficial for the heart needs further study.
What is known, however, is that being most active in the morning and being more restful in the evening is good for sleep. Because: Routines and structure are good for the internal clock as our clock, according to sleep researcher Christian Benedict in an interview with the star. "In the evening I should also calm down and reduce my activities, then I'll prepare myself well for the night." Means: It's better to do a hard workout in the morning and just go for a walk in the evening to wind down.
Sources: study, notification of the study, German Heart Foundation 1, German Heart Foundation 2