Int J Sports Med 2021; 42(11): 967-978
DOI: 10.1055/a-1485-1293

Examining the Role of Exercise Timing in Weight Management: A Review

Jennifer M. Blankenship
1   Department of Medicine, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, United States
Rebecca C. Rosenberg
2   Department of Medicine, Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver, United States
Corey A. Rynders
1   Department of Medicine, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, United States
Edward L. Melanson
1   Department of Medicine, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, United States
3   Department of Geriatrics, VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Aurora, United States
Victoria A. Catenacci
1   Department of Medicine, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, United States
4   Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, United States
Seth A. Creasy
1   Department of Medicine, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, United States
4   Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, University of Colorado-Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, United States
› Author Affiliations


Many adults cite exercise as a primary strategy for losing weight, yet exercise alone is modestly effective for weight loss and results in variable weight loss responses. It is possible that some of the variability in weight loss may be explained by the time of day that exercise is performed. Few studies have directly compared the effects of exercise performed at different times of the day (i. e., morning versus evening exercise). Results from these existing studies are mixed with some studies demonstrating superior weight and fat mass loss from morning exercise, while other studies have found that evening exercise may be better for weight management. Exercise timing may alter modifiable lifestyle behaviors involved in weight management, such as non-exercise physical activity, energy intake, and sleep. The purpose of this review is to summarize evidence for and against time-of-day dependent effects of exercise on weight management. Although limited, we also review studies that have examined the effect of exercise timing on other lifestyle behaviors linked to body weight regulation. While exercise at any time of day is beneficial for health, understanding whether there is an optimal time of day to exercise may advance personalized treatment paradigms for weight management.

Publication History

Received: 15 December 2020

Accepted: 07 April 2021

Article published online:
25 May 2021

© 2021. Thieme. All rights reserved.

Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany

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