We are updating our website on Thursday, December 2 from 9 AM – 5 PM EST. During this time, users may experience some disruptions while using the site. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Sustaining Regular Exercise During Weight Loss Maintenance: The Role of Consistent Exercise Timing

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $119.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $159.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $227.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $302.00

Background: Exercising at a consistent versus variable time of day cross-sectionally relates to greater moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among weight loss maintainers. This study evaluated the relationships between exercise timing and both MVPA levels and habit strength, as well as stability in exercise timing, over 1 year among maintainers in the National Weight Control Registry. Methods: Participants (n = 709) completed questionnaires assessing exercise timing, MVPA, and exercise automaticity (a measure of habit) at baseline and 1-year follow-up. At each assessment, participants were labeled temporally consistent exercisers if >50% of their exercise sessions per week occurred in one time window: early morning, late morning, afternoon, or evening. Participants exercising consistently during the same window at both assessments were labeled as having stable patterns. Results: Temporally consistent exercise at baseline, regardless of its specific time, related to greater MVPA over time (Ps< .05). Approximately half of temporally consistent exercisers at baseline exhibited stable patterns. Early morning exercise and greater exercise automaticity at baseline predicted stable patterns (Ps< .005). Temporally consistent exercise, especially during the early morning, related to greater automaticity across time (Ps< .01). Conclusions: Consistent exercise timing may help maintainers accrue more MVPA. Consistent early morning exercise was most strongly related to exercise automaticity and routine stability.

Schumacher, Thomas, Wing, and Bond are with the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Alpert Medical School of Brown University/The Miriam Hospital, Providence, RI, USA. Raynor is with the Department of Nutrition, The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Knoxville, TN, USA. Rhodes is with the School of Exercise Science, Physical, and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.

Bond (dbond@lifespan.org) is corresponding author.
  • 1.

    US Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2018.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Rhodes RE, Janssen I, Bredin SS, Warburton DE, Bauman A. Physical activity: health impact, prevalence, correlates and interventions. Psychol Health. 2017;32(8):942975. PubMed ID: 28554222 doi:10.1080/08870446.2017.1325486

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    Kelley GA, Kelley KS. Exercise and sleep: a systematic review of previous meta‐analyses. J Evid Based Med. 2017;10(1):2636. PubMed ID: 28276627 doi:10.1111/jebm.12236

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    Liao Y, Shonkoff ET, Dunton GF. The acute relationships between affect, physical feeling states, and physical activity in daily life: a review of current evidence. Front Psychol. 2015;6:1975. PubMed ID: 26779049 doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01975

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Jakicic JM, Rogers RJ, Sherman SA, Kovacs SJ. Physical activity and weight management. In: Wadden TA, Bray GA, eds. Handbook of Obesity Treatment. 2nd ed. New York, NY: The Guilford Press; 2018: 322335.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Paixão C, Dias CM, Jorge R, et al. Successful weight loss maintenance: a systematic review of weight control registries. Obes Rev. 2020;21(5):e13003. PubMed ID: 32048787 doi:10.1111/obr.13003

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Jeffery RW, Wing RR, Sherwood NE, Tate DF. Physical activity and weight loss: does prescribing higher physical activity goals improve outcome? Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(4):684689. PubMed ID: 14522725 doi:10.1093/ajcn/78.4.684

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Unick JL, Gaussoin SA, Hill JO, et al. Four-year physical activity levels among intervention participants with type 2 diabetes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016;48(12):2437. doi:10.1249/MSS.0000000000001054

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Catenacci VA, Grunwald GK, Ingebrigtsen JP, et al. Physical activity patterns using accelerometry in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity. 2011;19(6):11631170. PubMed ID: 21030947 doi:10.1038/oby.2010.264

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 10.

    Catenacci VA, Ogden LG, Stuht J, et al. Physical activity patterns in the National Weight Control Registry. Obesity. 2008;16(1):153161. PubMed ID: 18223628 doi:10.1038/oby.2007.6

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    Schumacher LM, Thomas JG, Raynor HA, Rhodes RE, Bond DS. Consistent morning exercise may be beneficial for individuals with obesity. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2020;48(4):201208. PubMed ID: 32658039 doi:10.1249/JES.0000000000000226

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12.

    Kaushal N, Rhodes RE. Exercise habit formation in new gym members: a longitudinal study. J Behav Med. 2015;38(4):652663. PubMed ID: 25851609 doi:10.1007/s10865-015-9640-7

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13.

    Pimm R, Vandelanotte C, Rhodes RE, Short C, Duncan MJ, Rebar AL. Cue consistency associated with physical activity automaticity and behavior. Behav Med. 2016;42(4):248253. PubMed ID: 25864705 doi:10.1080/08964289.2015.1017549

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14.

    Schumacher LM, Thomas JG, Raynor HA, Rhodes RE, O’Leary KC, Wing RR, Bond DS. Relationship of consistency in timing of exercise performance and exercise levels among successful weight loss maintainers. Obesity. 2019;27(8):12851291.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15.

    Willis EA, Creasy SA, Honas JJ, Melanson EL, Donnelly JE. The effects of exercise session timing on weight loss and components of energy balance: midwest exercise trial 2. Int J Obes. 2020;44(1):114124. doi:10.1038/s41366-019-0409-x

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16.

    Alizadeh Z, Younespour S, Rajabian Tabesh M, Haghravan S. Comparison between the effect of 6 weeks of morning or evening aerobic exercise on appetite and anthropometric indices: a randomized controlled trial. Clin Obes. 2017;7(3):157165. PubMed ID: 28343364 doi:10.1111/cob.12187

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17.

    Bond DS, Raynor HA, Thomas JG, et al. Greater adherence to recommended morning physical activity is associated with greater total intervention-related physical activity changes in bariatric surgery patients. J Phys Act Health. 2017;14(6):492498. PubMed ID: 28253045 doi:10.1123/jpah.2016-0529

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18.

    Bailey KJ, Jung ME. The early bird gets the worm! Congruency between intentions and behavior is highest when plans to exercise are made for the morning. J Appl Biobehav Res. 2014;19(4):233247. doi:10.1111/jabr.12027

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19.

    Gardner B, Abraham C, Lally P, de Bruijn G-J. Towards parsimony in habit measurement: testing the convergent and predictive validity of an automaticity subscale of the self-report habit index. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012;9(1):102. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-102.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20.

    Paffenbarger RS Jr, Wing AL, Hyde RT. Physical activity as an index of heart attack risk in college alumni. Am J Epidemiol. 1978;108(3):161175. PubMed ID: 707484 doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a112608

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21.

    Qian J, Walkup MP, Chen SH, et al. Association of objectively measured timing of physical activity bouts with cardiovascular health in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2021;44(4):10461054. PubMed ID: 33597215 doi:10.2337/dc20-2178

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22.

    Keller J, Kwasnicka D, Klaiber P, et al. Habit formation following routine-based versus time-based cue planning: a randomized controlled trial [published online ahead of print January 6, 2021]. Br J Health Psychol. doi:10.1111/bjhp.12504

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 23.

    Fortier MD, Katzmarzyk PT, Malina RM, Bouchard C. Seven-year stability of physical activity and musculoskeletal fitness in the Canadian population. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001;33(11):1905. doi:10.1097/00005768-200111000-00016

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24.

    Gorin AA, Phelan S, Wing RR, Hill JO. Promoting long-term weight control: does dieting consistency matter? Int J Obes. 2004;28(2):278. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802550

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25.

    Butryn ML, Phelan S, Hill JO, Wing RR. Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance. Obesity. 2007;15(12):30913096. PubMed ID: 18198319 doi:10.1038/oby.2007.368

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26.

    Kaushal N, Rhodes RE, Meldrum JT, Spence JC. The role of habit in different phases of exercise. Br J Health Psychol. 2017;22(3):429448. PubMed ID: 28374463 doi:10.1111/bjhp.12237

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27.

    Kwasnicka D, Dombrowski SU, White M, Sniehotta F. Theoretical explanations for maintenance of behaviour change: a systematic review of behaviour theories. Health Psychol Rev. 2016;10(3):277296. PubMed ID: 26854092 doi:10.1080/17437199.2016.1151372

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28.

    Rhodes RE, Rebar AL. Physical activity habit: complexities and controversies. In: Verplanken B, ed. The Psychology of Habit. Cham, Switzerland: Springer; 2018:91109.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29.

    Thomas JG, Bond DS, Phelan S, Hill JO, Wing RR. Weight-loss maintenance for 10 years in the National Weight Control Registry. Am J Prev Med. 2014;46(1):1723. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2013.08.019

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30.

    Leskinen T, Stenholm S, Pulakka A, et al. Comparison between recent and long-term physical activity levels as predictors of cardiometabolic risk: a cohort study. BMJ Open. 2020;10(2):e033797. PubMed ID: 32066606 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-033797

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 31.

    Hagger MS. Habit and physical activity: theoretical advances, practical implications, and agenda for future research. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2019;42:118129. doi:10.1016/j.psychsport.2018.12.007

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 32.

    Brooker PG, Gomersall SR, King NA, Leveritt MD. The feasibility and acceptability of morning versus evening exercise for overweight and obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Contemp Clin Trials Commun. 2019;14:100320. PubMed ID: 30705992 doi:10.1016/j.conctc.2019.100320

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33.

    Thomas JM, Kern PA, Bush HM, et al. Circadian rhythm phase shifts caused by timed exercise vary with chronotype. JCI Insight. 2020;5(3):e134270. doi:10.1172/jci.insight.134270

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 414 414 119
Full Text Views 19 19 3
PDF Downloads 26 26 3