The best time of day to exercise to help keep blood sugar under control, according to science

woman running during sunset

woman running during sunset

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Earlier this fall, we learned that Walk after meals for only two minutes (Yes, really!) It can have a huge impact on your blood sugar. But other than sprinkling a few activity “nuggets” as candy, researchers are still striving to learn more about the best techniques, times of day and exercise intensity levels that may influence – and perhaps help us manage – our blood sugar levels better.

While you might think this is only important for people who have diabetes or are at a higher risk of developing it, blood sugar is actually important for all humans to keep in balance. It’s normal for blood sugar to rise and fall throughout the day for all people. Under normal circumstances, our bodies are able to allow sugar from the blood to enter our cells, returning blood levels to a normal range. When blood sugar levels are high, our pancreas secretes insulin, which alerts our bodies to absorb glucose into the blood to use as energy now or store it in the liver as glycogen for fuel later. This process reduces the amount of sugar in the blood. Not to mention that a fairly constant blood sugar level is helpful in maintaining balanced and sustainable energy levels from morning to night.

For individuals with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetesInsulin resistance can alter the body’s response to blood sugar; Cells stop responding to insulin, and glucose remains outside the cells. As a result, blood sugar remains elevated. With about 1 in 10 Americans now diagnosed type 2 And another 38% fit the criteria prediabetesAccording to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, scientists are eager to discover more about the best ways to make riding the blood sugar train easier and smoother.

A new study was published on November 1, 2022 in the journal diabetes It adds a great guide along with the exercise we mentioned earlier. Apparently, “what” (the exercise) makes a difference, as does “when”. Physical activity in the afternoon or evening, ideally between noon and midnight, may significantly reduce insulin resistance and may be better at helping to control blood sugar than exercise.

Read on to learn more about this new health study, and discover other ways to balance your blood sugar.

Related: What you need to know about physical activity and diabetes

What the blood sugar study found

The The epidemiology of obesity in the Netherlands The study is a database of adults between the ages of 45 and 65 with a BMI of 27 or more. (Before we go any further, note that The validity of the body mass index and its importance as an indicator of health questionable, but since they used to determine eligibility for this study, we wanted to mention it.)

To conduct this research, the scientists invited all participants with a body size representing their region in the Netherlands to be part of a control group; This ended up in 6,700 participants. All of these individuals underwent a physical examination, which included blood sugar samples that determined fasting blood glucose and insulin levels and after eating. They also completed questionnaires about lifestyle factors, and the fat content of the liver was measured by MRI for some.

From this group, researchers randomly assigned 955 people to wear an accelerometer and a heart rate monitor for four days and nights to track activity levels and overall movement patterns. To classify the timing of exercise, scientists divided the day into blocks of six hours:

  • From 6 am to noon

  • From noon until 6 pm

  • From 6 pm until midnight

Based on activity trackers, the scientists ranked each participant in one of those blocks based on when they did the most moderate to vigorous physical activity. At the end of the data collection process, 755 participants were included in the analysis.

Related: These are the 5 best exercises for your health, according to a Harvard physician

Those who exercised in the afternoon experienced an 18% reduction in insulin resistance, and being active in the evening was associated with a 25% reduction in insulin resistance. Activity spread throughout the day or activity performed only in the morning appeared to have no effect on liver fat content and insulin resistance, whereas afternoon and evening physical activity had an effect.

In addition to insulin’s effect on blood sugar control, another way glucose can enter cells is through exercise. Muscles require energy when we move and challenge them. To provide us with enough energy to complete the tasks we ask them to do, our bodies allow glucose to glide into muscle cells.

Scientists acknowledge that it’s too early in the data-gathering process to explain why exercise in the afternoon and evening shows better results than exercising in the morning. They also have to establish whether changing the timing of exercise from morning to noon or evening would improve activity, or if there was something else about those with a PM habit that might be moving the needle.

bottom line

This new study finds that exercise in the afternoon and evening may provide the greatest benefits for controlling blood sugar. While it is interesting to bear in mind, it is necessary to note that this was just one study, and a fairly small one, at the time. Larger and more diverse research is required to validate these findings. In addition, the most important moral of the story is that activity at any time of the day is beneficial. In fact, morning exercise It may actually be your best option if you find it difficult to make exercise a part of your daily routine. (Translation: Early Birds, keep up the great work if you like your 6 a.m. yoga class or take a walk!)

Keep in mind that exercise is just one of many Healthy ways to lower blood sugar. Sleep, hormones, medications, etc Spoof agents can affect blood sugar like that. What’s on our plate has the most impact, of course, so we recommend sprinkling it 29 recipes to help keep blood sugar under control In your meal plan, too.

next one: These are the quickest ways to stabilize your blood sugar if you have diabetes

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