fbpx Skip to content

Morning Exercise and Cognitive Fitness

Strategic exercise timing may support brain health.

There may be something to the adage “The early bird catches the worm,” and it’s good news for those who love early-morning workouts. Not only is sunrise training an invigorating way to start the day; it may also stimulate adequate blood flow levels to the brain throughout the day, even during lengthy periods of inactivity.

Researchers wanted to evaluate whether moderate-intensity morning exercise, with or without breaks during subsequent prolonged sitting, enhanced blood flow to the brain in older adults. Participants were 12 overweight and obese men and women, ages 55–80.

“What we found was that during uninterrupted sitting, there was a pattern of decline in brain blood flow over 8 hours,” said lead study author Michael Wheeler, PhDc, of the University of Western Australia in Perth. “However, when participants performed a morning bout of exercise with or without subsequent breaks in sitting, brain blood flow improved in the afternoon, several hours after exercise.”

“Uninterrupted sitting should be avoided,” wrote study authors, “and moderate-intensity exercise should be encouraged for the daily maintenance of cerebral blood flow.”

Find the study in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2019; 126 [4], 1049–55).


See also: How to Master the 5 a.m. Time Slot for Fitness Classes

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.

November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.