This is why you shouldn’t exercise in the dark

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  • Turns out that you're better off hitting that snooze button

    We don’t know about you, but now that the nights are drawing in and the mornings are getting darker, we’re finding it harder and harder to get up and go for a run first thing. No matter how many different alarms we try (gimmicky simulated sunrise lamp, we’re looking at you) getting out of bed to exercise in the dark just isn’t that fun. And working out after-dark when you’ve finished work? Just. Don’t.

    But it turns out that we might not have to feel so guilty about hitting that snooze button after all. According to a new study by Chicago’s Northwestern University, daytime exercise is actually better for you.

    Why? Because your muscles work most efficiently when your body is awake, meaning that you’ll get fitter quicker by doing daytime exercise.

    Researchers found that when the ‘clock’ in muscle cells was switched off, exercise’s usual ability to induce sugar consumption and generate lactic acid was prevented.

    The research paper’s lead author, Dr Joseph Bass, explains: ‘Oxygen and the internal clock are doing a dance together inside muscle cells to produce energy, and the time of day determines how well that dance is synchronised.’

    ‘The capacity for a cell to perform its most important functions, to contract, will vary according to the time of day. In the future, we may discover new ways to manipulate the oxygen response of the cell by resetting the clock.

    ‘We’re not saying we can tell athletes when they should work out but in the future, perhaps, you may be able to take advantage of these insights to optimise muscle function.’

    Take advantage of these insights in the future? Pfft. We’re taking advantage of them now, thank you very much Dr Bass, and hitting that snooze button again stat. Lie-ins have never felt so good.

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