Finding time to commit to exercise can be a real challenge, forcing many of us to squeeze in a quick run or gym session whenever there's a spare moment. It might be time to rethink those habits.
New evidence suggests if you really want to make the most of your exercise, you should do it at the same time each day. It's a schedule your body will thank you for.
A study lead by researchers from Brown Alpert Medical School in the US has shown it really doesn't matter if you're a dawn jogger or a twilight cyclist; it's the consistency that's key if it's weight-loss you're after.
The US Department of Health and Human Services suggests two and a half hours of moderate physical activity each week is the least we should be doing to keep healthy.
And not just a minute here or there, but at least 10 minutes of heart-pounding exercise in each session.
Needless to say, if you're fairly fit and in a good state of health, you're probably meeting this requirement. But many of those who have problems keeping their weight down often struggle to get the exercise they need.
Using survey results on the physical activity of 375 individuals exercising for weight loss, the researchers identified a strong relationship between a moderate-to-vigorous level of exercise at the same time of day and the amount of time spent exercising.
Roughly half of the volunteers were morning people, which, when taken in context with a previous study by some of the same scientists, could indicate physical activity before you start your day is the way to go.
This preference for regularity might all come down to the way we think about our diary.
Activities we expect to do at set times – such as picking up the kids, going to work, or attending social meetings – aren't really things we give a great deal of conscious thought to.
This mindless repetition is referred to as automaticity in psychology circles, and has already been shown to be important when it comes to sticking to an exercise regime.