Recent studies published in the medical journal Diabetologia reveals new evidence that exercise in the afternoon or evening, ideally between noon and midnight, may significantly decrease insulin resistance and may be better at helping to control blood sugar than morning exercise. This discovery is not only beneficial for people who have diabetes or are at a higher risk for it, but for everyone because it is important for all humans to keep blood sugar under control. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy.”
Reports noted that The Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity study included a database of adults between ages 45 and 65 with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or greater. BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms (or pounds) divided by the square of height in meters (or feet), documents the CDC.
For this research, scientists invited all participants with a body size that was representative of their area in the Netherlands to be part of a control group. They had more than 6,000 participants. All these individuals had a physical examination, which involved blood sugar samples that tabulated blood glucose and insulin levels while fasting and after eating. They also completed questionnaires about lifestyle factors, and some had their liver fat content measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Those who exercised in the afternoon experienced an 18 per cent decrease in insulin resistance, and activity in the evening resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in insulin resistance. Activity spread throughout the day or activity only performed in the morning appeared to have no impact on liver fat content and insulin resistance, while afternoon and evening physical activity did.
Generally, people’s blood sugar levels rise and fall throughout the course of the day. Under normal conditions, the body is able to allow sugar from the blood into the cells to return blood levels into a normal range. When blood sugar levels are high, the pancreas secretes insulin, which alerts the body to soak up the glucose in the blood to use as energy now or store in the liver as glycogen for fuel later. This process lowers the amount of sugar in the blood. This is important as a steady blood sugar level is beneficial in maintaining balanced, sustained energy levels from morning to night.
For individuals with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance can alter the body’s response to blood sugar; cells stop responding to the insulin, and glucose will stay outside of cells. As a result, blood sugar remains high. The CDC estimates that about one are in 10 Americans now diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and another 38 per cent fit the criteria for prediabetes. Researchers are still on a quest to learn more about the best methods, times of day and intensity levels of exercise that might affect and potentially help people to better manage their blood sugar level.