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   Feb 02

Morning jog? Leave it until noon: Performance does not peak until several hours after a person has woken up

20 Professional athletes put through fitness tests between 7am and 10pm

They were split into three separate groups depending on sleeping patterns

Early risers did best at noon while the late sleepers peaked just before 8pm

Listen to your body clock rather than the clock on the wall, researcher said

It is the perfect excuse to have a lie in. Research shows that first thing in the morning is not the best time to exercise.

The British study found that no matter whether someone is a lark or an owl, their performance doesn’t peak until noon.

In other words, rather than the alarm clock for 6am and dragging yourself out for a jog before work, sleep in and go for a run later in the day.

The University of Birmingham researchers put 20 professional athletes, including several England hockey players, through a fitness test six times between 7am and 10pm.

Elite athletes: Early risers did best at noon while late sleepers peaked at around 8pm (file photo)

They also asked the men and women to fill in a detailed questionnaire, designed to work out if they were larks, who thrive on early starts, night owls, who love sitting up to the wee small hours or if they fell somewhere in between.

They found that the larks did best on the test around noon. Night owls peaked just before 8pm, while the intermediate types excelled around 4pm.

Timing was particularly important for night owls, who did 26 per cent worse if forced to exercise first thing in the morning.

However, larks also didn’t peak first thing, despite seemingly being wide awake, the journal Cell reports.

Birmingham University researcher Roland Brandstaetter said the results show the importance of listening to our body clock, rather than the clock on the wall.

He said: ‘The body clock has such a big effect because virtually every cell in the body has a clock.

‘There are clocks in the brain and also in the organs, in the heart, in the liver, everything, and your physiology is controlled by these clocks. Everything happens on a day-night basis.’

He added that one simple way to tell whether you are a lark or an owl is to think about how long it takes you to feel fully wake.

Late run: Birmingham University researcher Roland Brandstaetter said the results show the importance of listening to our body clock, rather than the clock on the wall (file photo)

Larks are alert within about half an hour of getting up, however, it might be five or six hours before a night owl stops feeling sleepy.

The results are also of relevance to athletes, where even a one per cent difference in performance can make the difference between winning gold and being left of the podium.

Football managers may also want to take note.

Dr Brandstaetter said they might get better results if they fielded night owls for Champions League matches which can start as late as 9pm on the continent.

Larks, in contrast, might excel in domestic games with early kick-offs.

Source: Daily Mail

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