Exercising at a particular time can help the human body fine-tune an internal body clock that has been knocked out of sync, finds a new study.

Body clock or circadian rhythm is a natural internal system that is designed to regulate sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period. It runs in the background of the brain and is controlled by the hypothalamus- a portion of the brain.

Disruptions in the circadian rhythms could be associated with negative health outcomes including neurodegenerative and cardiometabolic diseases.

Exercise can change the body clock. Here’s how:

The circadian rhythm is a cycle of hormone release that responds to cycles of dark and light in a person’s environment. Not only does the cycle help regulate when a person should wake up or go to sleep, but it also helps determine when one feels hungry or burn calories.

Exercise can help either advance or delay a person’s circadian rhythms of other clocks in their body (peripheral clocks) that are located in other parts of the body. The new research highlighted that timing of exercise is key in this process.

“Our findings demonstrate that muscle contractions, as a component of exercise, can directly modulate the expression of muscle clock components in a time of day dependent manner,” said the researchers in their paper published in The Journal of Physiology.

The Study:

  • When mice exercised five hours into their resting phase- or middle of the night’s sleep, they ‘advanced’ the phase of muscular clocks by nearly 100 minutes.
  • And when they exercised an hour prior to the end of the resting phase or an hour before waking up, the phase of muscular clocks got delayed by around 60 minutes.

Exercise, thus, acts as a time cue for a person’ s muscular clock. Using body muscles could be one way to help the body keep time and reset the clocks if their typical circadian rhythms get altered. Rhythms could get altered when a person lives out of sync with natural rhythms. A typical example of this is a person who works at night shifts.

The findings revealed that muscle contractions can directly stimulate changes in a person’s internal clock and allows for the possibility of extremely specific fine-tuning.

“If this is replicated in humans it means that night-shift workers can use exercise to help shift their body clocks. We may also be able to use exercise as a treatment for a ‘body clock disorder’ that can occur in many chronic diseases such as heart diseases,” Christopher Wolff, study’s co-lead author and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Florida told the Ladders.

Exercising at a particular time can help reset your internal body clock Pexels, Pixabay