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Exercising at the Right Time: Boarding School Routine

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I know there’s has to be a reason why — 28 years after graduating from boarding school — I’m still addicted to exercising between 3-6PM.

Every so often science affirms conventional wisdom. Today, some of the benefits of the daily boarding school routine seem to be getting a step closer to scientific support.

As regular readers know, we’re huge fans and believers in the benefits of the traditional boarding school daily routine. Everybody knows what’s coming at them when. You know where to be when. You know what’s expected of you. Minimal curve balls give everyone time to focus energy on what needs to be done.

And, there’s the larger benefit of establishing good habits.

One of the habits that gets established in the boarding school schedule is regular afternoon exercise. Students and faculty hit the fields/gym/courts/ice/road for practice almost every day between 3-6 PM.

Science may be getting a little closer to confirming the benefits of exercise during this afternoon window through the work of UCLA’s Christopher Colwell and his recent paper “Voluntary scheduled exercise alters diurnal rhythms of behaviour, physiology and gene expression in wild-type and vasoactive intestinal peptide-deficient mice.”(Journal of Physiology by subscription/payment)

Covering the research for The NYT Well blog — “Why Afternoon May Be the Best Time to Exercise” — Gretchen Reynolds highlights the possible benefits of afternoon exercise for human circadian rhythms.

“The beneficial effect was especially pronounced in those animals that exercised in the afternoon (or mouse equivalent).

That finding, Dr. Colwell says, ‘was a pretty big surprise.’ He and his colleagues had expected to see the greatest effects from morning exercise, a popular workout time for many athletes.

But the animals that ran later produced more clock proteins and pumped the protein more efficiently to the rest of the body than animals that ran early in their day.

What all of this means for people isn’t clear, Dr. Colwell says. ‘It is evident that exercise will help to regulate” our bodily clocks and circadian rhythms, he says, especially as we enter middle age.

But whether we should opt for an afternoon jog over one in the morning ‘is impossible to say yet, he says…

…’What we know, right now,’ he says, “is that exercise is a good idea” if you wish to sleep well and avoid the physical ailments associated with an aging or clumsy circadian rhythm. And it is possible, although not yet proven, that afternoon sessions may produce more robust results.

‘But any exercise is likely to be better than none,’ he concludes.”(NYT)

I will be in the gym between 5-6 PM this afternoon….

Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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