Ask the Doctors June 2018 Issue

Ask The Doctors: June 2018

Michael Rocco, MD

Michael Rocco, MD, medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Stress Testing at Cleveland Clinic

Q: I am committed to following my doctor’s advice and exercising regularly. Does it matter what time of day I exercise? Is there a best time?

A: Depending on your exercise goals, there may be specific benefits to working out at a particular time of day. Exercising in the morning may be associated with lower blood pressure, better sleep and greater weight loss, due to improved fat burning and appetite suppression. Studies also suggest that people tend to be more consistent with morning exercise, due to fewer distractions that are likely to interrupt their routines later in the day. On the other hand, afternoon or evening exercise is associated with peaks in body temperature and flexibility and appears to be better at improving aerobic performance and strength. But for most of us who want to exercise for general health effects, the best time is the time that works best and allows you to perform it regularly. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise, a week in divided sessions. Adding resistance training three times a week can further benefit you.

Many variables contribute to a successful exercise program, including time of day, location, type of activity and social setting. However, consistency is the most important variable and is most strongly linked to achieving positive results. If you are a morning person, then a morning workout is likely best. If you are a night owl, exercising later in the day may be a perfect way to unwind and release stress. For most of us, it is probably best to avoid exercising just before bedtime, since it may interfere with your ability to go to sleep.

In short, the best time to exercise is when you have the most energy and motivation to do it. Regardless of why you exercise, pick the time that works best for you and stick with it.

Q: For health reasons, I have been trying to avoid frying foods. Now I hear that grilling and broiling may be bad, too. How are we supposed to prepare food?

A: You are referring to a recent study that examined more than 100,000 men and women with no history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer or high blood pressure, who were followed for 12 to 16 years. During that time, more than 37,000 developed high blood pressure.

Previous studies suggested there is a relationship between hypertension and the consumption of red meat, but these studies did not examine the effects of other white meats or how the meats were cooked.

In this study, the authors looked at adults who consumed two or more servings of red meat, fish or chicken a week. After controlling for other factors, such as total meat consumption, they found a 17 percent increase in the incidence of hypertension in those who cooked their foods over an open flame or at high temperatures more than 15 times a month. Those who preferred their meats very well done had a 15 percent higher incidence of hypertension. The effect was consistent with different meats, which may be due to certain chemicals that form during the cooking process and that may increase inflammation, oxidative stress and blood pressure.

So back to your question. As in so many things, it is all about moderation. If you enjoy grilling, limit it to a few times a week, adequately cook your meat without overcooking it and consider cutting off any charred portions before consuming it. Enjoy your meat as a small component of a healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in red meats, animal fats and sodium. Complement your healthy diet with regular exercise, and you will be on your way to a better blood pressure and a longer, healthier life.

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