Research suggests that exercising in the afternoon or evening may be better for controlling blood sugar than spreading activity throughout the day.
A new study published in the journal diabetes It found that exercising between noon and midnight can reduce insulin resistance by up to a quarter.
Insulin resistance occurs when cells in muscle, fat, and liver struggle to respond to insulin and cannot easily absorb glucose from the blood.
This results in the pancreas producing more insulin to help glucose enter the cells.
Blood glucose remains in the healthy range as long as the pancreas can produce enough insulin to overcome the poor cell response, but sometimes glucose levels rise too high and sugar remains in the bloodstream.
This can lead to prediabetes (the stage before diabetes is diagnosed) or diabetes.
The new study was conducted by Dr Jeroen van der Velde and colleagues at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
Previous studies have shown that exercise is associated with better sensitivity to insulin, and thus a lower risk of developing diabetes.
The team used data from the Netherlands Epidemiology Study of Obesity, which included men and women aged 45 to 65 with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or more (putting them in the overweight or obese category).
A separate group of people was used as a control group, which means that the overall study included 6,671 people.
Participants underwent a physical examination in which blood samples were taken to measure the level of glucose and insulin in the blood during fasting and after eating.
The subjects were also asked about their lifestyles and some were randomly selected to measure the fat content of the liver using MRI scans.
A randomized group of 955 people was also given a combined accelerometer and heart rate monitor to wear for four consecutive days and nights to monitor movement and activity levels.
About 775 people with complete data were included in the analysis.
The results showed that spending time in moderate to vigorous physical activity reduces liver fat and also reduces insulin resistance.
Exercising in the afternoon or evening was associated with lower insulin resistance, by 18% and 25%, respectively, compared to an even distribution of activity throughout the day.
The study found that there was no significant difference in insulin resistance between morning activity and activity spread evenly throughout the day.
The researchers concluded: “These findings suggest that the timing of physical activity throughout the day is closely related to the beneficial effects of physical activity on insulin sensitivity.
“Other studies should evaluate whether the timing of physical activity is actually important for the occurrence of type 2 diabetes.” – d b a
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