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This is When to Exercise for a Fat-Burning, Belly Slimming Boost

Activity anytime is good, but this two-hour window might maximize your waist-whittling efforts.

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gif illustration of woman exercising at different times during the day and night, fitness, exercise, working out
Alyah Holmes
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Do you have a favorite time of day to do a favorite physical activity? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Is there a best time of day to burn off belly fat?

A team of researchers led by nutrition and applied physiology scientists at Skidmore College put a group of 30 women (including perimenopausal and postmenopausal subjects) and 26 men on a 12-week exercise plan. Half of the study participants exercised between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. The other half had their sweat session between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Tale of the measuring tape

The results, published in a 2022 issue of Frontiers in Physiology, suggest that women who worked out early in the day saw greater decreases in overall body fat and abdominal fat. In fact, the morning movers lost ten percent of their belly fat, vs. three percent for evening exercisers. These women also saw a bigger boost in lower-body muscle power. (Below the waist is where our biggest muscles are located—and building muscle helps us burn more fat.) These women didn’t get lighter—they got leaner and more sculpted.

What types of movement made the difference?

The researchers looked at multimodal exercise—that is, movement that alternates resistance, intervals, stretching, endurance over several days. Always check with your health care provider about activities and intensity levels that are suitable for you. The people in this study were well conditioned, i.e. not couch potatoes when they signed up.

Resistance: Upper and lower body strength training exercises

Intervals: Exercisers chose from among heart-pumping activities such as treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, swimming, snowshoeing, cycling and rollerblading, alternating levels of intensity

Stretching: Yoga and Pilates

Endurance: Similar to the activities for interval training, conducted at a steady pace

Do you have a favorite time of day to do a favorite physical activity? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health