A new study has found that the benefits of exercising at different times of day differs between men and women.

The research team looked at 30 men and 26 women, who were all active, healthy and aged between 25-55, over a 12-week period. The research team monitored the effects of a varied fitness routine, which included stretching, sprinting, resistance and endurance training.

Group 1 exercised for an hour before 8:30am while Group 2 exercised in the evening, between 6:00pm and 8:00pm. All participants followed a very strict and specific meal plan.

During the course of the study participants had their blood pressure and body fat tested, as well as their strength, flexibility and aerobic power, with results compared before and after.

Over the course of the study, all participants improved their overall health and exercise performance. However, the results found that Group 1’s early morning exercise was most beneficial for women when it came to reducing abdominal fat and blood pressure, while the women in Group 2’s evening exercise saw more results when it came to improving their mood, food intake and upper-body strength.

Men in both Group 1 and Group 2 were able to improve their upper-body strength as effectively whether they exercised in the morning or evening. Men exercising in Group 2, however, showed greater results for improved heart and metabolic health – reducing the risk of conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Evening exercise time for Group 2 also had more benefit to men when it came to improving their emotional wellbeing.

The study openly admits it is unclear why women and men responded differently, however, the factors that differentiate the sexes are likely to be hormonal, biological clocks and sleep-wake cycles. The research team also said that women may be more sensitive to early morning exercise due to the fact women are more likely to have excessive body fat.