The best time to exercise? Try the morning hours.

If you want to lose weight, you may be better off hitting the gym at the start of the day.

That’s the finding from a new study published in the research journal Obesity. The study examined data from more than 5,000 participants in a 2003-06 U.S. health survey and looked at their workout patterns. The results showed that the “morning cluster” exercisers had a lower body mass index and waist circumference than their counterparts who exercised in the middle of the day and in the evening.

Authors of the study noted some limitations in their research — for example, each person’s biological clock may differ, which in turn could lead to variability “in responsiveness to physical activity.” Still, the authors said their “findings substantiated the role of morning [physical activity] in weight management.”

This is not the first time researchers have tackled the question of what time of day is best to work out.

Another recent study, published in the Frontiers in Physiology research journal, noted that women particularly benefited in certain ways from exercising in the morning. The study said that women who worked out early in the day had reduced abdominal fat and blood pressure, but it also noted that evening exercise “enhanced muscular performance in the women cohort.”

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