- The timing of exercise may influence blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, a new study has found.
- People who exercised in the afternoon were more likely to have lower blood sugar.
- Experts point out that working out at any time of the day is important for managing diabetes.
Exercise is a useful tool in blood sugar management for people with Type 2 diabetesbut new research has shown that When your physical activity can make a big difference, especially at a certain time of day.
The study, published in the journal Diabetic treatments, followed 2,416 people with type 2 diabetes who participated in the Look AHEAD study, which is a randomized clinical trial designed to examine the long-term effects of lifestyle interventions in people with type 2 diabetes. type 2 overweight or obese. For the study, participants wore an accelerometer recording device at the waist to measure their physical activity.
Researchers found that people who engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in the afternoon had the greatest reduction in blood sugar (or blood sugar) levels during the first year. This was quite significant – the afternoon exercisers had a 30-50% lower drop in blood sugar than the other groups.
The researchers also looked at data from the fourth year of the study and found that the afternoon exercise group maintained this reduction in blood sugar. They also had the best chance of stopping their blood sugar-lowering medications.
High blood sugar can put people with type 2 diabetes at risk for serious complications from the disease, including heart diseasevision problems and kidney disease, depending on the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
“We’ve known for some time in people with type 2 diabetes that physical activity is important to help manage blood sugar levels,” says Roeland study co-author JW Middelbeek, MD, assistant professor of medicine. at the Joslin Diabetes Center. “Many studies have looked at how many people should do this, but there were no specifics yet on when. It is the recognition that the body’s response to blood sugar management is different at different times of the day.
But why can exercising in the afternoon help manage blood sugar? Here’s the deal.
How does exercise influence blood sugar?
Initially, any form of exercise is known to help lower blood sugar, says Dr. Middelbeek, and this can happen in a number of different ways.
Exercise increases your sensitivity to insulin, a hormone that helps blood sugar enter cells in the body so it can be used for energy, ADA said. This helps your muscle cells make better use of any available insulin to absorb glucose during and after your workout.
When your muscles contract during physical activity, it also helps your cells take up glucose and use it for energy, whether insulin is available or not, the ADA notes. Over time it can help lower your blood sugar level and make the insulin in your body more effective, says Dr. Middelbeek.
Working out regularly also helps build lean muscle, which can help increase your metabolism, which can also indirectly help lower blood sugar, says Albert Matheny, personal trainer and nutritionist, MS, RD, CSCS, co- founder of SoHo Strength Lab And Promix Nutrition.
Regular exercise also has lasting benefits for blood sugar management. “Long term, it also helps improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which benefits metabolic health because it helps maintain stable blood sugar levels,” says Christoph Buettner, MD, Ph.D., chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Why exercising in the afternoon can help manage blood sugar?
It’s important to point out that the study didn’t prove that exercising in the afternoon leads to lower blood sugar – it just found a link. But there are some theories about what could be behind it.
It “makes sense” that the timing of your workout could impact your blood sugar levels, says Matheny. “Blood sugar rises after eating.”
But blood sugar is usually higher in the afternoon because you’ve probably already had breakfast, lunch and maybe even a snack, he says. “Training at this stage will help lower or manage your blood sugar levels,” he says.
Dr Middelbeek agrees. “If you’ve been eating, blood sugar usually rises, and exercise can help bring it down,” he says.
Your body’s sensitivity to insulin can also increase during the afternoon, says Dr. Buettner. “Insulin sensitivity tends to be higher in the afternoon compared to the morning, which may enhance the metabolic benefits of exercise,” he says. “It will also lead to lower blood glucose and lipid levels in the evening, which will last throughout the night and is likely beneficial.”
What if you can’t exercise in the afternoon?
Dr. Middelbeek says people with type 2 diabetes should consider exercise as part of their treatment plan, along with healthy eating and taking blood sugar-lowering medications, if recommended by a doctor.
“We recommend people get active and stay active whenever possible,” he says. “The longer people can stay active, the better it is for their overall health.” Dr. Buettner simply recommends that people with type 2 diabetes be prepared for low blood sugar during or after exercise, especially if they take extra insulin or blood sugar lowering medications. “Exercise can sometimes cause blood sugar levels to drop too low (hypoglycemia),” he says. “Carry a fast-acting carbohydrate source, such as glucose tablets or a small snack, in case you experience low blood sugar during or after exercise.
If you can’t exercise in the afternoon, which Dr. Middelbeek says is when a lot of people work, he simply recommends making sure you exercise, period.
“A lot of us who study this will always say that any time you can exercise is good,” he says. “We know a lot of people aren’t active in the afternoon. Anytime people can be active, that’s great. But the afternoon may be slightly better for glucose management.
Korin Miller is a freelance writer specializing in general wellness, health and sex, and lifestyle trends, with work appearing in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Self, Glamour, and more. She has a master’s degree from American University, lives near the beach, and hopes to one day own a teacup pig and a taco truck.