People with type 2 diabetes may benefit from afternoon exercise, study finds

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The researchers concluded that “timing seems to matter” when it comes to physical exercise.


People with type 2 diabetes should exercise in the afternoon rather than the morning to manage their blood sugar levels, according to a new study.

“In this study, we (have) shown that adults with type 2 diabetes had the greatest improvement in blood sugar control when they were most active in the afternoon,” said the corresponding co-author. , Dr. Jingyi Qian, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, said in a statement.

“We know that physical activity is beneficial, but what our study adds is new understanding that the timing of activity may also matter,” Qian added.

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A team of researchers from the Brigham and Joslin Diabetes Center studied data from more than 2,400 people who were overweight and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and wore an accelerometer recording device on their waists – something that measures vibrations or acceleration of movement – to measure their physical activity.

After reviewing data from the first year of the study, the researchers found that those who engaged in “moderate to vigorous” physical activity in the afternoon had the greatest reduction in blood sugar.

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, examples of “moderate” activities include brisk walking, mowing the lawn with an electric mower, and recreational badminton, while “vigorous” activities include hiking, jogging fast, a game of basketball or football or cycling at 14. -16 miles per hour.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can tell if you’re exercising at a moderate aerobic level if you’re able to talk but not sing your favorite song.

Looking at data from the fourth year of the study, the team found that those who exercised in the afternoon maintained a reduction in blood sugar and had the best chance of being able to stop taking blood sugar-lowering drugs. against diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes and occurs when the body becomes insulin resistant or does not produce enough insulin, according to the World Health Organization.

Found primarily in adults, it is associated with advanced age, obesity, family history, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity.

People with diabetes are at risk for complications, including nerve damage, vision and hearing problems, kidney disease, heart disease and premature death.

The study authors note that the observational study has limitations, as it did not measure sleep or eating.

“Timing seems to matter,” said corresponding co-author Dr. Roeland Middelbeek, associate researcher at the Joslin Diabetes Center. “In the future, we may have more data and experimental evidence for patients to give more personalized recommendations.”

Dr Lucy Chambers, Head of Research Communications at Diabetes UK, said of the study: ‘Staying physically active can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels and reduce their risk of developing complications. serious diabetes-related issues such as heart disease and kidney failure, as well as improving their overall well-being.

Chambers, who was not involved in the study, stressed the need for people to exercise where they can.

This new research found that regular ‘moderate to vigorous’ physical activity – whether morning, noon, afternoon or evening – was associated with lower average blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. type 2. Afternoon exercise was associated with the greatest benefits, but the reasons for this are unclear and current evidence on optimal times for exercise is mixed.

“If you’re living with type 2 diabetes, the most important thing is to find exercise that you enjoy and that you can incorporate into your long-term routine – whether it’s before work, on your lunch break or in the evening. ” she added.

The team’s findings are published in the journal Diabetes Care.

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