Weight loss: Does it matter when I exercise?

Time of day matters less than consistency, study finds

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Most of us know exercise is a major part of losing weight, but does the time of day you work up a sweat make a difference? 

Not really, according to recent research -- but consistency does. 

Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Michael Roizen didn't conduct the study but said results show -- morning, noon, or night -- people who exercise at the same time every day are better able to maintain their weight. 

"It's about making it a habit to do it every day, and at the same time every day," he said. "So, if you want to lose weight, one of the greatest points they made was that exercise was almost essential, and doing it the same time every day helps you keep the weight off." 

Researchers looked at data from the National Weight Control Registry and studied exercise habits of people who were able to lose weight and keep it off. 

They wanted to see if the time of day people exercised played a role in successfully achieving and maintaining weight loss. 

Results show time of day mattered only if the person exercised consistently at that time, meaning they made a habit of exercising at a certain time each day.

Authors note the participants who successfully lost weight and maintained it exercised at a high intensity, four or more days each week.

Roizen said the easiest way to form an exercise habit is to find a buddy who will hold you accountable. 

"Have a buddy that you always walk with at the same time; that way you feel responsible to the buddy," he said. "Maybe it's three buddies - so that all three of you walk at the same time every day and that way you're likely to do it because you feel a commitment to the buddy or buddies." 

For people who enjoy running or walking, Roizen recommends using a pedometer, or cell phone, to track steps so walkers can increase their step count a little each day. 

Complete results of the study can be found in Obesity.