BACKGROUND. The circadian system entrains behavioral and physiological rhythms to environmental cycles, and modern lifestyles disrupt this entrainment. We investigated a timed exercise intervention to phase shift the internal circadian rhythm. METHODS. In 52 young, sedentary adults, dim light melatonin onset (DLMO) was measured before and after 5 days of morning (10 hours after DLMO; n = 26) or evening (20 hours after DLMO; n = 26) exercise. Phase shifts were calculated as the difference in DLMO before and after exercise. RESULTS. Morning exercise induced phase advance shifts (0.62 ± 0.18 hours) that were significantly greater than phase shifts from evening exercise (–0.02 ± 0.18 hours; P = 0.01). Chronotype also influenced the effect of timed exercise. For later chronotypes, both morning and evening exercise induced phase advances (0.54 ± 0.29 hours and 0.46 ±0.25 hours, respectively). In contrast, earlier chronotypes had phase advances from morning exercise (0.49 ± 0.25 hours) but had phase delays from evening exercise (–0.41 ± 0.29 hours). CONCLUSION. Late chronotypes — those who experience the most severe circadian misalignment — may benefit from phase advances induced by exercise in the morning or evening, but evening exercise may exacerbate circadian misalignment in early chronotypes. Thus, personalized exercise timing prescription, based on chronotype, could alleviate circadian misalignment in young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere134270
JournalJCI insight
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 13 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, American Society for Clinical Investigation.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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