Muscles recover faster in the morning

A study from France shows that it takes longer to recover from hard exercise in the evening than in the morning (International Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 27, 2006). Cyclists performed ten six-second bouts of all out effort, with 30-second rest periods while the researchers measured peak power output, total mechanical work, peak pedaling rate, and peak efficient torque. The same group of cyclists performed these workouts in the morning on one day, and in the evening on another day. They found that the short-term recovery patterns were slower in the evening than in the morning.

While the researchers offered no explanation, decreased muscle performance late in the day may have a lot to do with brain function. Each muscle is made up of millions of individual muscle fibers. Each muscle fiber is instructed to contract by a single nerve fiber that receives messages from the brain. Your brain is far more alert after sleeping and napping than after being active for many hours. For example, students score higher in exams taken shortly after waking up than later in the day, and telephone operators answer more calls in the morning than in the afternoon. Late-day mental performance improves after napping, and the same may be true of muscle function.


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