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Get up and get moving: Morning physical activity linked with the lowest risk of stroke

 “The findings were particularly pronounced in women, and applied to both early birds and night owls.”

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According to a new study involving over 85,000 participants, morning physical activity is linked with lowest risk of stroke.

The findings of the study remained consistent regardless of the total amount of daily activity.

Study author Ms. Gali Albalak, says: “It is well established that exercise is good for heart health, and our study now indicates that morning activity seems to be most beneficial.

 “The findings were particularly pronounced in women, and applied to both early birds and night owls.”

This study used data from the UK Biobank and included 86,657 adults aged between 42 and 78 years who were free of any cardiovascular disease at baseline.

The average age of study participant was 62-years-old and 58 per cent were women.

All participants wore an activity tracker on their wrist for seven consecutive days.

Participants were tracked for incident cardiovascular disease, which was defined as the first hospital admission or death related to coronary artery disease or stroke. 

During six to eight years of follow up, 2,911 participants developed coronary disease and 796 had a stroke.

Comparing peak activity times across a 24 hour period, being most active between 8 am and 11 am was linked with the lowest risks of both heart disease and stroke.

In a second analysis, the investigators on the study divided participants into four groups based on the peak time of physical activity:

  1. Midday
  2. Early morning (~8 am)
  3. Late morning (~10 am)
  4. Evening (~7 pm)

The categories were selected according to peak times of activity in the study population, rather than being predetermined before the study began. 

Associations between peak time of activity and incident cardiovascular disease were analysed during midday as the reference group.

After investigators made adjustments for sex and age, they found that participants that were most active in the early or late morning had 11 per cent and 16 per cent lower risks of incident coronary artery disease, respectively, compared to the reference group.

Additionally, those who were most active in the late morning had a 17 per cent decreased risk of incident stroke compared with the reference group.

Researchers found that their findings were consistent regardless the total amount of daily activity, and whether participants described themselves as a morning or an evening person.

When the results were separately analysed according to sex, the investigators found that the results were particularly prominent in women but no longer significant in men.

Women who were most active in the early or late morning had 22 per cent and 24 per cent lower risks of incident coronary artery disease, respectively, compared to the reference group. 

Additionally, women who were mot active in the late morning had a 35 per cent decreased risk of incident stroke compared with the reference group.

Ms Albalak concludes: “This was an observational study and therefore we cannot explain why the associations were more marked in women. 

“Our findings add to the evidence on the health benefits of being physically active by suggesting that morning activity, and especially late morning, may be the most advantageous. 

“It is too early for formal advice to prioritise morning exercise as this is quite a new field of research. 

“But we hope that one day we can refine current recommendations simply by adding one line: ‘when exercising, it’s advised to do so in the morning’.”

HIWIN

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